Vikram Jethwani Bhopal
It may sound shocking but the residents of Madhya Pradesh have to stomach the hard fact that 90 per cent community health centres (CHCs) of the State are not equipped with basic infrastructure to deliver a child.
And thus, the State maintains its dubious distinction of having the highest Maternal Mortality Rates (MMR) in the country, with death of a pregnant woman every 40 minutes.
The fact is supported by a study undertaken by Reproductive and Child Healthcare (RCH) programme between 1997 and 2004. As per the study, meagrely 31 primary health centres (PHC) have labour rooms while the State has a total of 285 CHCs across 48 districts.
The gravity of the situation could be gauged by the fact that there does not exists the basic need of a labour room, while according to the norms laid down for institutional delivery there should be a well-equipped 5-bed labour room with availability of oxygen cylinder, OT table, operation kit and a power generator. The condition in the rural areas is worse. Governmental healthcare facilities are not available in most of the areas, health department sources said. President of Madhya Pradesh State Health Workers Association LN Sharma, who supervises health facilities in the rural areas, said, "The ground realities are pathetic and we need a holistic approach to address this issue directly." Ironically, the condition at Primary Health Centres (PHCs) could be perceived a bit better as about 196 PHCs from the total of 1,152 such centres have labour rooms. State Health Minister Ajay Vishnoi and Health Commissioner Rajesh Rajora could not be contacted.
However, chief medical and health officer of Bhopal BS Ohri told The Pioneer, "Conditions at Bhopal district have improved and both CHCs of Bhopal at Berasia and Gandhi Nagar are well-equipped. The concept of Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal care unit (CMOCs) also has been doing well and Bhopal recorded a rise of 3,497 institutional delivery to the total number of 17,086 in year 2006, from 13,589 of year 2005.
Earlier, The Pioneer on January 10 had published a report, on eight pregnant women namely Newabai (28), Padwawati (22) of Lakhanwara, Radhabai (25) of Kuthla, Rinki Kewat (22) of Badari, Guddibai, Raddhobai, Meena and Shashi of Badwara of Ashok Nagar and Katni districts respectively, who had to lost their lives in absence of healthcare facilities.