The Hindu, Feb 11, 2007
Especially in rural areas where healthcare system is virtually non-existent
Gwalior (M.P.): When Khiloni delivered her second child in her hutment at Duhiya village of Gwalior district in December 2005, the family celebrated.
It was only after a while they realised that her placenta had not come out and she needed immediate medical attention. Her husband, Ashok, a daily wage earner, arranged for a tractor in the middle of the night to take Khiloni (25) to the Civil Hospital at Morar, about 35 km away.
However, little did Ashok realise that the worse was to come at the hospital as the doctors refused to admit Khiloni saying that the hospital was not equipped to handle such a complicated case and asked him to take his wife to a private nursing home reportedly owned by a doctor employed at the Civil Hospital.
Khiloni died a few hours later but the child survived. Ashok took a loan of Rs. 10,000 for the entire exercise and the family is yet to re-pay it.
Khiloni's two children are being looked after by their maternal and paternal grandmothers.
A few kilometres away in Banjaron ka Dera, a tribal village, young Leela was being treated at the Hastinapur Public Health Centre for complications during her third pregnancy.
During her regular visits to the centre, she was examined by the doctor only once and the rest of the times, it was the health worker who treated her.
A disillusioned Leela was taken to a private doctor when she had a miscarriage in the fifth month of her pregnancy. As there was no sign of improvement even after spending a huge sum, Leela was shifted to the Civil Hospital at Murar on a bullock cart one night when her condition deteriorated, but died the following day.
The family paid Rs. 800 to take back the body. Her husband Mahesh, who took a loan of Rs. 35,000 for this, now works as a bonded labourer while his two children are being looked after by their grandmothers.
Madhya Pradesh figures among the list of States where maternal mortality is high, particularly in rural areas, where the healthcare system is virtually non-existent and awareness on the subject among the people extremely low.
According to UNICEF, Madhya Pradesh along with Assam and Uttar Pradesh has a high Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) of 700 or more per 100,000 live birth as against the national figure of 407 per 100,000 live births as per the 2001 Census figure. However, regional disparities in maternal mortality are wide with the death ratio being low in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Punjab and extremely high in most northern States.