Govt lifts curbs to encourage hospital delivery

Modified rule will benefit below-18 mothers and those with 2 children

Aiming to reduce maternal and child mortality, the Union  Government has lifted restrictive provisions in a centrally-funded scheme in which expectant mothers are given financial rewards for delivering their children in a health care centre.

The modified rule will allow below-18 mothers as well as mothers with two children to avail the benefits given under the scheme known as Janani Surakhsa Yojna (JSY),  sources told Deccan Herald.

Previously JSY benefits were not applicable to teen-age mothers and those having two children as these conditions go against the national policy.

A part of the national rural health mission, JSY's aim was to bring down over all maternal mortality ratio and infant mortality rate, by increasing institutional deliveries from Below Poverty Line (BPL) families.

But a cautioning evaluation report by National Health Systems Resources Centre and a report on maternity protection by the Union Labour Ministry suggest JSY excludes a significant proportion of women by virtue of the exclusion criteria of ‘minimum age of mother and two-children norms’.

The Health Ministry has now decided to do away with age and two-children conditions for JSY benefits of Rs 1,400 for mothers and Rs 600 for the community health workers known as ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) in rural areas of Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir.

In urban areas of these states, mothers will receive Rs 1,000 whereas the community health worker will get Rs 400 from the government for encouraging the mother to come to a medical institution for delivery. In other states, JSY benefits are applicable to women below the poverty line and those belonging to SC-ST community. In rural areas mothers will get Rs 700 and health worker Rs 600 whereas in urban pockets, they will get Rs 600 and Rs 400 respectively.

BPL women, who prefer to deliver at home too will receive Rs 500 from the government irrespective of age and number of children. The government’s emphasis on institutional deliveries under the NRHM contributed to a big jump in hospital or health care centre-based deliveries, from 47 per cent in 2007-08 to 72.9 per cent in 2009 and 79 per cent in 2013.

But despite the improvement, India continues to account for one-fifth of all maternal deaths globally.  While Nepal and Bangladesh are on target to achieve one of the Millennium Development Goal targets—reduce maternal deaths by 75 per cent by 2015—India stagnates with only 50 per cent reduction by 2011, says the Population Foundation of India.

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