The Rajasthan government lost track of 2.3 million registered pregnant women in the five years after 2011, according to a comptroller and auditor general report, reported The Hindustan Times. The report found that there was a gap in the number of pregnant women registered for ante-natal checks and the number of women who had deliveries.
9.5 million women had registered for ante-natal checks, of which 6.7 million had an institutional delivery (delivery in a hospital), while 508,000 women delivered their children at home.
The state government has said that the 2.3 million pregnant women could be missing from records because they might have lost their unborn children due to abortions, miscarriage, or medical termination
“We are collecting information from block- and district-level health workers to track these missing deliveries and will soon get to the reason,” Naveen Jain, mission director, national health mission, Rajasthan, told The Hindustan Times.
A performance audit of the National Rural Health Mission brought this discrepancy to light. The National Rural Health Mission is a central government scheme which was launched in 2005. It aims at reducing child and mortality rates. The government launched Janani Suraksha Yojana under the Health Mission scheme, in an effort to reduce maternal and infant mortality. As per the scheme mothers below poverty line receive cash assistance for institutional delivery.
According to the CAG audit, 5.3 million women of the 5.5 million women who went for institutional deliveries under the scheme received cash assistance.
According to a report conducted by researchers in the UK, India and Australia, women do not take up the JSY incentive to have institutional deliveries because of the lack of infrastructure at hospitals, because there is nobody else to take care of their other children at home, and because they think that childbirth is natural and trust traditional mid-wives to oversee the delivery.
ASHA workers were key in driving women to use maternal healthcare facilities, the research found. The study’s lead author said that the research highlights the importance of supporting community health workers and also shows the importance of improving the quality of healthcare facilities.
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