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In a disturbing incident that came to light recently, a man convinced his pregnant wife to have a natural delivery at home, and tried to perform this complex procedure himself with the help of a Youtube video.
Owing to the lack of proper medical attention his 28 year old wife lost her life due to excessive blood loss. This event took place in Tirupur in Tamil Nadu.
It’s not clear what led the couple to make this decision, but this episode does bring into focus the fact that despite technological advancement in the medical field, India still has a high Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR). One reason for this is that not all women have the benefit of having safe childbirth with proper medical attention, due to cost issues, lack of awareness or logistics issues.
The government has introduced many schemes like Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) and Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK) for the poorer sections of society so that they can receive proper medical care during pregnancy. Another step in this direction by the government has been to introduce Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) across villages and towns. They are community health workers who amongst other duties, create awareness about government hospitals and convince women to opt for going to a hospital for childbirth.
However, in many government hospitals, the facilities present are limited and out-of-date. The doctors are overworked and at times women in labour are treated insensitively and cruelly. Institutionalised deliveries were incentivised to reduce maternal and infant mortality, but most women do not receive the care promised to them as per the above mentioned programs. Instead they have to face what can only be termed as obstetric violence. Some women have even complained of being hit during childbirth in these facilities. Though they are entitled to free treatment, often, members of the staff bully and extort money from them. Their harrowing experiences make them wary of going back to these hospitals for their next pregnancy and they prefer delivering at home through midwives. While midwives can be a good option for the delivery in many cases, not all midwives are well-trained.
Some childbirths are complicated procedures and at times, can even be fatal. Post childbirth issues like infection, haemorrhage or high blood pressure can kill the new mother if not treated immediately.
Ensuring that women reach the hospital for safe childbirth is only the first step. The more vital step is to guarantee that they receive proper medical attention. Our government medical facilities should be updated and properly staffed. An expectant mother must receive care by experienced doctors in a sensitive manner so that what is supposed to be the most beautiful moment of her life is not scarred with a traumatic experience.
India has received commendation from UNICEF for having the fastest decline in MMR, but it is no reason to celebrate as it still as high as 130 per lakh. Let’s work towards reducing this number and ensuring we have healthy mothers and babies.
Image source: YouTube
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