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Times of India
09 September 2011
Bangalore , India

Scheme Aims To Bring Down Maternal Mortality
The government cares for all women, irrespective of status. To drive home this message, a scheme has been launched to provide free treatment to pregnant Above Poverty Line (APL) women in government hospitals along with those belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL) category.

APL pregnant women too will get free care
They will get free pre– and post–delivery treatment under Jananani Shishu Suraksha Yojana (JSSY) in hospitals run by the health and family welfare department. The scheme is part of the National Rural Health Mission started in 2005.

In a workshop organized by the government on Thursday, S Selva Kumar, mission director, National Rural Health Mission, said notices were issued to all state hospitals on Wednesday. The treatment will be available in three Bangalore hospitals –K C General, Jayanagar General and Ghousia Hospitals. Across the state, 192 hospitals will provide free treatment to pregnant women. The government also plans to include hospitals run by the medical education department and the BBMP.

The initiative is to ensure free services to pregnant women, including normal deliveries and Caesarean operations, and sick newborns (up to 30 days after birth) in both rural and urban areas.

The scheme will enhance people’s access to public health institutions and help bring down maternal mortality and infant mortality rates. “Our goal is to reduce maternity mortality rate (MMR) to 100 by 2012,” said Selva Kumar. The present MMR is 178 as per a 2009 survey.

TRAINING FOR MIDWIVES
The government will train nurses and midwives to handle complicated deliveries as hospitals are facing shortage of doctors. “The government is facing a major constraint. Only 15 per cent of MBBS graduates we recruit actually join government hospitals because most of our recruitments are in rural areas,” said Dr E V Ramana Reddy, secretary, health and family welfare department.

3 MONTHLY INSPECTIONS
The department will conduct three inspections every month in government hospitals to check pre–natal (sex determination) tests. Sex ratio has come down considerably in the past 10 years and illegal sex determination tests conducted in various hospitals are a reason to worry, said Selva Kumar.

TIMES VIEW

The Karnataka government’s decision to extend free medical facilities for pregnant women above the poverty line is a welcome move. Quality healthcare is not available for many above the poverty line too. At a time when the state is struggling to check maternal mortality rate, this is a timely measure. But just the announcement of such an initiative won’t do. The authorities should now focus on effective implementation and ensure the goal is achieved.

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