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Lacking Facilities, Exhausted Hospitals Are Denying Care To Pregnant Women – Is Anyone Listening?

Posted: June 14, 2020

Pregnant women are being denied timely and crucial medical care because there are no beds, no facilities, and doctors are all battling the pandemic. Is anyone listening?

Imagine the despondency of the man who lost his wife and unborn child as hospitals wouldn’t take her in. He ran from pillar to post, hoping to get her a hospital bed. But the 8-month pregnant mother and the child lost their battle for life after 13 hours of frantic hospital-hopping.

Regrettably, this is just one out of many such mishappenings. Several cases of maternal and child care neglect have been reported across the country during the past couple of months.

A woman in Delhi delivered on the road after being denied admission to a hospital.

In Jharkhand, a pregnant lady was mistreated which led her to eventually lose her child.

In another incident from Indore, Madhya Pradesh, a woman in labor and her yet-to-be-born child succumbed while shuffling between ambulances.

Maternal health and reproductive health conditions in India weren’t ever impressive. The rural women particularly suffered due to lack of pre and post-maternity care. Now with overwhelmed hospitals, things are getting difficult for pregnant women everywhere alike. They are left with no care and no place to deliver their babies.

Selective Empathy: is humanity dying a slow death?

Some time ago my social media feeds were full of news about the conditions of migrant labourers, the poor elephant being fed crackers and killed, and the merciless lynching of George Floyd.

All these incidents were unfortunate and despairing and shook me to the core.

But what bewilders me is our selective sympathy by being least bothered about the plight of pregnant women in India during the pandemic. Why aren’t these death-related posts appearing in my social media feed? Why dos even media selectively report such cases?

Last month, all our celebrities became responsible citizens and criticized the George Floyd lynching. We called them hypocrites. But don’t you think we too are hypocrites for showing selective sympathy. We sympathize with the animals; we sympathize with migrant workers, we sympathize with the innocent man beaten to death. But we are least bothered about pregnant women, unborn children, and infants dying.

Minimising women’s suffering

This untoward and insensitive behavior toward women during pregnancy and post-pregnancy is nothing new. As a mother myself, I remember the harsh and insensitive comments I received from the hospital staff to family and relatives. As if the physical pain and discomfort wasn’t enough, these tormenting comments left me more vulnerable.

Women are expected to suffer, physically, and emotionally. Childbearing is supposed to be a ‘natural thing’ and a woman complaining is ‘overreacting’.

In the pandemic advisory, the Indian government asked the children, elderly, and expecting women to remain indoors. Amidst the fear and misunderstanding, their families and medical staff both forgot that pregnancies require medical attention too.

Several cases were reported, where, due to missed scans and lack of medical facilities, women carried stillborns for several days in their wombs. In a very unfortunate incident in Chennai, a woman has to carry a pregnancy with an anomaly to full-term, because when she finally saw her doctor, she was way past her legal abortion date.

It is time for some action

Regrettably, such a situation of expecting mothers has been worldwide. Little have the governments considered to take care of their needs. Recently, the National Health Commission for Women’s (NCW) chairperson, Rekha Sharma, had to write to the home minister citing the plight of pregnant women in India.

Public health and gender advocates across the globe are demanding a better view of the gender implications of the corona crisis. The risk that pregnant women face, the medical care that they require, and how to deal with it; governments and organizations need to think about these aspects.

The impact of the pandemic are worsening each day. We are in dire need to take action now to protect the vulnerable and the new life. And ensure that there is no gender disparity when it comes to health care needs.

Image source: pixabay

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