Pregnant women, babies and mothers should remain healthy : these were the prime objectives of the Government for focusing on child birth in Government hospitals. So the Government inaugurated the ‘Janani Suraksha Yojana’ in 2005-2006. But now this scheme seems to have lost focus. In the last six years, only 39,130 people have benefited from this scheme in the Nagpur district. If we compare these statistics with the total population of Nagpur, then these statistics are very low and indicate the failure of the scheme. In addition, under the ‘Janani Suraksha Yojana,’ the poor in rural areas are even now being given a meagre 700 rupees at the time of delivery, whereas at the rates prevailing nowadays, it would be impossible to purchase the medicines required at the time of delivery for that amount. Moreover, the medicines required at the time of delivery are not available in Government hospitals. Pregnant women or their relatives are being asked to buy the required medicines from the market.
Significantly, the Scheduled Castes (SC), the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and the Below Poverty Line (BPL) are included in the Janani Suraksha Yojana. Under this scheme, while the women whose ‘delivery’ is done in hospitals are given 700 rupees as incentive, those whose ‘delivery’ is done at home are given 500 rupees. In urban areas, the incentive is 600 rupees and 500 rupees respectively. This programme is limited to pregnant women for the ‘delivery’ of 2 babies only. If any woman gets a Caesarian operation, then the amount given is 1500 rupees. To get this amount, it is necessary for the women to show proof of the Caesarian operation. This scheme is beneficial from the point of view of the poor, but in these inflationary times, the amount being disbursed is like ‘Oont ke muh mein Jeera’, which means ‘Too small an amount for a very large need.’ The amounts disbursed are not sufficient for even buying the necessary medicines which are required during delivery, leave alone for keeping the mother and child healthy. Scarcity of medicines has become a regular feature in hospitals. If medicines are available then doctors remain absent and vice versa. If any poor woman comes for ‘delivery’, then she is told to get all the miscellaneous tests done and buy medicines from outside. This being the case, how can the scheme fulfill its objectives? Worse, to fulfill the formality of keeping records, the names of those women are written in the register whose delivery was not even done in the hospital of that village –tehsil. Generally too, this scheme is not taken seriously due to which the number of beneficiaries is very small. The officials are somehow running this Yojana as a formality. In reality, it is a mockery of poor people.
Similarly, when ‘delivery’ is done at home, then many times there is a threat of complications, sometimes even death to the mother and the baby. That is why by implementing the ‘Janani Suraksha Yojana,’ the government has encouraged the women to get their ‘delivery’ under proper supervision so that both the mother and the baby remain healthy. It was expected that after the implementation of the scheme, no mother or child would die due to lack of medicines and treatment. But the way by this scheme is being implemented is very disappointing. With inflation increasing very rapidly, it is also felt that the amount being disbursed currently should be increased.
An important feature of this scheme is that ‘deliveries’ are being done by Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA). The ASHA workers are paid 350 rupees for every delivery of a child in a government hospital. Also, there is a provision for providing a nutritional diet to the mother and the baby, but there is bungling in this too. The Health Department is unable to fulfill its duty. ASHA workers are saying that there is lack of awareness in rural areas. In addition, from time to time, the required amenities are not provided to pregnant women do not get in Government hospitals. The behavior of the hospital employees also leaves much to be desired. Obviously, a number of improvements at various levels, including an increase in the amounts being disbursed at present, are essential for the ‘Janani Suraksha Scheme’ to be successful.