Expectant mothers should be given monthly allowance: Planning Commission

January 15th, 2009 - 7:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 15 (IANS) The Planning Commission has suggested that expectant mothers in rural areas be provided Rs.1,000 during the last three months of pregnancy and six months after delivery to ensure that women don’t ignore post-natal care and immunization of their babies.Speaking at the launch of a Unicef State of the World’s Children 2009 report Thursday, Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed said: “Less finances and lack of availability of institutional healthcare pose great dangers to the mother’s and child’s life… adding to that the practice of women returning to their chores and work immediately after giving birth, is more risky.”

“Conditional cash transfers for women are being planned… Rs.1,000 per month will be given to women three months before delivery and for six months after, to ensure they go through with the procedures of post-natal care, immunization and pay attention to nutrition needs.”

Hameed added: “Women are valued less in our society - their nutrition and medical requirements are ignored during pregnancy - yet they are expected to produce a healthy child.”

In India, on an average every seven minutes one woman dies from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, the Unicef report said. It also said that India would most likely fail to achieve the millennium development goal of slashing the 2001-2003 maternal mortality rate of 301 per 100,000 live births to 109 by 2015.

So such a scheme would be welcome.

While the Planning Commission has already “set aside” money for this, a scheme has not been finalized for implementation, Hameed said.

“I don’t know why this plan is not underway as yet - civil society must mount pressure.”

In the 11th Plan (2007-12), Hameed said adequate funding is being given to health care and antenatal care, which was double that of the previous plan.

“To lower infant and maternal mortality, essential services must be provided at key points in the life cycle through dynamic health systems that integrate a continuum of home, community, outreach and facility based care - all this will be addressed in the 11th plan,” Hameed said.

Hameed stressed that just providing facilities and institutional healthcare alone was not answer.

“Midwives, trained women and registered medical practitioners could prove to be useful links to tackle the mortality risk of mothers and newborns in our country, where it is not feasible to provide institutional healthcare to everyone. We must rely on indigenous tradition. Government has to partner with good practices in civil society,” Hameed concluded.

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