Millennium Post

Govt admits only 19.7% women receive ante-natal healthcare in India

The picture seems to be very grim and appalling in case of ante-natal healthcare in India. According to the government, only 19.7 per cent women in the country have received ante-natal healthcare, indicating the fact that there has been a decline in proper healthcare meted out to pregnant women, leading to a sharp rise in cases of malnourished children being born.

Rapid Survey on Children (RSOC) commissioned by the government in 2013-14, with technical support from UNICEF, India, has reported that “full ante-natal care (ANC) has been received by 19.7 per cent pregnant women.” According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 1.3 million children die of malnutrition every year in India and 50 per cent of them are underweight, 45 per cent have stunted growth and 75 per cent are anaemic.

For “full ANC” being administered appropriately includes “the receipt of more than three ANC visits, at least one dose of Tetanus Toxoid (TT) and consumption of 100 Iron-Folic Acid (IFA) tablets or syrup”. Unfortunately these essential prerequisites for the ante-natal period has not been administered for nearly 80 per cent women in the country, indicated RSOC.

Explaining the causes which lead to the failure of being unable to provide ante-natal healthcare, the government said: “The reasons for low full ANC maybe due to multiple factors like inaccessibility, illiteracy, ignorance, non-functional facilities in their vicinity, besides myths and beliefs about IFA consumption and fear of out-of-pocket expenditure.”

Presently, eight Union Territories and 16 states (which in totality include 80 districts) have successfully implemented full ANC.

In a slew of measures to increase the quality of ANC and awareness in rural areas regarding the issue, the government said the steps being followed in this regard include on “operationalization of sub-centres, primary health centres, community health centres and district hospitals for providing 24 hours basic and comprehensive obstetric care services.” There is also emphasis on “improving competencies of staff nurse, auxiliary nurse midwife through 3 days Dakshata programme and 6 days skills lab training,” emphasising on the need to have a mandatory ‘mother and child protection card’ to monitor service delivery for the mothers and children.

The government said it is also focusing on “educating women about the importance of ANC during their registration is also a key step” and looking into “engagement if more than 9.15 lakhs Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) to generate demand and facilitate accessing of heath care services by the community.”
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