Women are not receiving the maternal healthcare benefits outlined in the government’s Janani Suraksha Yojana scheme. The scheme, which came into force in 2005, seeks to provide safe and effective prenatal and maternity care for rural women. As part of the National Rural Health Mission, JSY is aimed at women who fall Below the Poverty Line (BPL). However, many of these same women report no knowledge of the scheme and have received little to no benefits from it.
The scheme was created to curb health risks and maternal mortality rates among rural women. India has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. According to the World Health Organization, 136,000 mortality deaths occur in India every year. This can be traced to poor prenatal nutrition and the lack of professional medical care during delivery. Many rural women give birth at home and complications during delivery cannot be responded to with swift, accurate and comprehensive medical care.
Janani Suraksha Yojana provides a 700 rupee cash incentive to rural BPL women to have institutional deliveries. It also supplies expecting mothers with important prenatal vitamins, such as iron tablets. Women will receive proper medical care during delivery and are promised twenty hours of inpatient hospital stay after delivery. This is to ensure medical staff can monitor the health and welfare of the mother and child immediately after delivery.
Yet many women say they have not seen any benefit from the scheme. As we see in Sunita’s video report, women are often not told about the scheme and do not receive the cash benefits promised them. Furthermore, many women are forced out of the hospital well before the allotted 20 hours of postpartum care.
Crucially, JSY does not cover a critical high-risk section of the population: mothers under age 19. Young women are at severe risk of dangerous complications during delivery. Their bodies are often not mature enough to handle delivery.
While the National Rural Health Mission’s Janani Suraksha Yojana scheme is good on paper and in principle, it has a long way to go before it can be realized.