In Orissa, only one ambulance is available to transport all the pregnant women of one block.
In India, pregnancy continues to put women’s lives under threat. According to UNICEF, each year, 78,000 women die in childbirth from complications of pregnancy in India. Every five minutes, one women dies of preventable pregnancy related causes somewhere in the country.
To tackle the issue and reduce maternal and neonatal care, the Janani Suraksha Yojana scheme – “Pregnant Women Safety Scheme” was launched in 2005 under the National Rural Health Mission. The scheme aims at encouraging institutional delivery in government hospitals, by providing free transportation and free drugs to pregnant women and free treatment for sick newborns.
The scheme has been implemented all over India, but major flaws persist, and delivery remains a detrimental moment for women and their babies. In Orissa, home of our Community Correspondent Sarita, a problem with this scheme lies in the limited number of ambulances that have been made available to transport women to the hospital. Indeed, there is only one ambulance for every block of villages. Since villages are spread out and distances are far, the ambulance is rarely available when needed and many women have to find other forms of transport to reach the hospital, jeopardising their lives and those of their unborn babies. In May this year, a woman gave birth to a stillborn child after being made to wait for transportation. Another woman, who even though she delivered her child, had to be transported on a scooter to the hospital.
Sarita feels the scheme should be properly implemented so that these women do not need to put their lives at risk during delivery. She hopes to mobilize her community on the issue, in order to increase the number of ambulances available so that at the crucial moment every women is safely transported to the hospital.