Maternal and Infant Health Endangered by Health Center Scam

The government health centers are the lifelines of rural India. They are centers responsible for fulfilling the state’s responsibility towards the health and welfare of some of its most vulnerable citizens. In the most remote and ‘backward’ regions, the health centre is that much more important and responsible for the lives of the people. But, unfortunately, as Community Correspondent Saroj Paraste points out in her video on a dysfunctional health centre in Sakhri Village, District Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, such is hardly the case in the country today.

She says that the officials and workers of the health centers seem to take the people for granted. They think that because the people are illiterate and have nowhere to turn to; they will resort to suffering in silence. They don’t care even if people are suffering or dying. It is not their concern that their apathy and corruption is endangering the lives of infant children and pregnant mothers. They only want to get their hands on the funds.

The health center in Saroj’s video stopped functioning on 24th September, 2010 inspite of the Multi-Purpose Health Worker Mr. Baldev Bhavedi and the Nurse Mid-Wife Ms. Kalpana Patel still being on the government payroll. Even basic healthcare like timely vaccinations for pregnant women and newborn children are not given. Other activities like awareness programs and field visits and surveys have long been abandoned. This has resulted in one woman and her newborn child losing their lives. Many others continue to suffer. The pregnant women who have never received a single vaccination worry about their unborn child and uncertain future.

The people’s numerous pleas to the Health officers have fallen on deaf ears. Saroj’s video is the first time that they have had an opportunity to speak about and articulate their troubles. They are the voices behind the shameful numbers of the country’s infant mortality statistics of 2012.

The national rate according to the survey is 44 while Madhya Pradesh averages 62 deaths for every 1000 births. In rural and remote areas, the situation gets worse.  There are frequent cases of still birth, premature birth, miscarriages, and other complications during prenatal and neonatal stages of birth puts both the life of the mother and child at severe risk. Experts and reports maintain that basic awareness and healthcare would go a long way in helping save lives. Saroj agrees and says that we can start by weeding out the rock bottom corruption that seems to have set into the system.

Saroj, a mother of a girl child herself, wants to start the process of change by showing her video to the Block Medical Officer. If not resolved at that level, she will take it higher up. The voices and suffering of the people make a powerful wake up call on the need for immediate action and change in rural health centers. Not just in Sakhri but through out Madhya Pradesh and the country at large.


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