In the assembly polls held in five states - Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telnagna and Mizoram - the Congress registered victory only in Telangana.
What is common between Meena Parmar (22), Kanta Kumari (21) and Srerata (24) – they all have delivered more than two children with weak health parameters and are struggling with their third or fourth malnourished child to save. To top it all, the medical support system for the healthy mother and child was unavailable till very recently.
The poor health of mother and child was contributing towards the rising figures of maternal and child mortality. Sensing the severity of the situation the state government along with Unicef worked to change the situation around.
The government hospital Haridev Joshi Medical college and Hospital Dungarpur is now the lone big hospital with a dedicated center to take care of Sick Newborn babies. The hospital is also the only government hospital with a dedicated Intensive Care unit for the newborn babies.
Southern Rajasthan predominantly suffer with the problem of poor maternal health which results into premature weak children. Dungarpur identified a district with poorest health indicators for the pregnant women and lactating mothers. Under the National Health Mission (NHM), through ‘MusQan’ government aims to make every government hospital for a newborn childcare friendly. This covers providing quality health services aided with modern technologies to save the mother and child in case of emergency.
The statesman visited the government hospital HaridevJoshi Medical college to check the ground realities which caters to the maximum load in the entire southern region. While the Pediatrics Department of the hospital will make heads turn with its cleanliness and good maintenance of the nursery and the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Sick Newborn Care Unit(SNCU) and labour rooms, the head of the department of Pediatrics confesses that it was not like this about three years ago. “We are handling at least 30 deliveries daily. The pressure is huge on the hospital because this is the only government medical center in the region. We need to handle at least 30 patients in a day who are here for delivery. When the hospital initially started there were a lot of problems. However, today this is the only hospital that is MusQan certified in the state. Also with an enhanced support from the government and Unicef the maternal mortality has gone down and we could send an increased number of healthy mother and child home” said the Head of Department, Pediatrics Dr Nilesh Golhi of Haridev Joshi Medical college and hospital.
MusQan certification requires child friendly ambience, free delivery of complete services, availability of pediatric drugs, standard treatment and procedures to manage a baby. Availability of service and staff capacity to deliver the services as per the standard norms. The MusQan project is implemented in cycles. Each cycle is for two months and the rapid progress is strictly monitored by the district and state level teams of officials.
Speaking to The Statesman, the Health Officer of Unicef Manisha Manikant Chawla, said, “I have been coming to Dungarpur for the past three –four years. Since mostly the population is tribal and with no or very little exposure, they tend to look at things from a perspective that is not best for the pregnant mothers and new born child. So we have done excessive counselling not only to the mothers but we have involved the male members.
Counselling the families works well to convince them to come to hospital for delivery and show the mother regularly during pregnancy to the doctor” .
The Unicef Health Officer and other medical staff shared that the mothers are young and they deliver at least four children unless a male child is born. So this complicates things for the mother and the newborn, And to add to this the mothers are weak and not well fed with a lot of deficiencies.
“So we worked around this problem. If the male or elderly members are convinced they then practice the suggested prescribed ways. And this helps to check the rate of maternal and child mortality” added Manisha.
The hospital is under expansion aiming to cater to the pregnant women and newborn. A glance at the mortality statistics shows that there about 103 children died in 2001 while in 2020 the figure was 40. So there is substantial progress in curbing the mortality rates in the past few years.
The constant work and counselling is still going on. The state government and Unicef has been working towards achieving the target of minimal maternal and child mortality.