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Updated: October 3, 2011 10:53 IST

Do away with two child norms: Universal Health Coverage report

Aarti Dhar
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A mother arriving with new born baby to receive health care at a government hospital in Bangalore. File photo
The Hindu A mother arriving with new born baby to receive health care at a government hospital in Bangalore. File photo

Advocating empowerment of girls and women to enable them to realise their health rights, a high-level expert group on Universal Health Coverage has suggested that conditionalities be removed from all programmes, particularly the two-child norm for maternity or other benefits, as they have little or no control over their reproductive rights.

The report has called for improving women's access to health services, focussed on strengthening their role in health care provision and building up the health system capacity to recognise, measure, monitor and address gender concerns.

The expert group, headed by Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, has said access to health services should go beyond maternal and child health. Greater financial and human resources should be allocated to address nutritional anaemia, sexual and reproductive health (including reproductive tract infection, sexually-transmitted infections, safe abortion, contraceptive care, uterine prolapse, menstrual disorders, and malaria and tuberculosis during pregnancy), domestic and gender-based violence and critical mental health services especially depression.

The group has called for improving working conditions for women especially by addressing their concerns about safety, transportation, housing, hygiene and sanitation as well as maternity benefits.

Importantly, it has focussed on expanding women's career through time-bound programmes to increase their number in higher positions in health programmes and ensuring that all health management structures have mandated representation of women professionals, including nurses.

The group reposes faith in community-based programmes such as day-care centres, palliative care, domiciliary care, and ambulatory care that can support home-based health care.

‘Health for all'

Set up by the Planning Commission, the group was asked to develop a blueprint and investment plan for meeting the human resource requirements to achieve health for all by 2010 and rework the physical and financial norms needed to ensure quality, universal reach and access to health care services, particularly in under-served areas, and to indicate the relative roles of private and public service providers.

The group, in its draft report presented to the Commission, has said all health data are disaggregated by sex and age, and reported and analysed on this basis whatever the source of data. Importantly, it has said, the contribution of households and women to the health sector has to be accounted for under the proposed National Health Accounts. This is to arrive at a realistic estimate of their contribution, which goes unpaid at the household level.

Safety for working women

The expert group has called for improving the working conditions for women, addressing their concerns about safety, transportation, housing, hygiene and sanitation as well as maternity benefits. Importantly, it has focussed on expanding women’s career through time-bound programmes to increase the number of women in higher positions in health programmes and ensuring that all health management structures have mandated representation of women professionals. The expert group reposed faith in community based programmes such as day-care centres, palliative care, domiciliary care, and ambulatory care that can support home based health care provision.

Instituted by the Planning Commission, the expert group was asked to develop a blueprint and investment plan for meeting human resource requirements and to rework the physical and financial norms needed to ensure quality, universal reach and access of health care services, particularly in under-served areas.

Definitely national population stabilisation should be a higher priority than maternal health care since it affects community and environment rather than just few ignorant / arrogant individuals. There should be very good campaigning in parallel to ensure that the norms are clear to all, not only women, before they are sorry. The agencies should focus on awareness rather than short term solutions.

from:  Gayathri
Posted on: Oct 11, 2011 at 18:42 IST

As we all know population of India is exploding and also Indian society is divided into several classes ranging from BPL to Upper rich class, from remote villages to metro, from illiterate orthodox to intellectual liberals. The different classes of people having different opinion on their reproductive rights. In my observation educated class delayed their marriages and they have less number of children. In fact this class of people can afford to give their children better facility for responsible citizen on India in future. On the other hand the fertility rate of poor class is very high. They contact early marriages and having more number of children. In rural area Girls marriages is even become early marriage phenomenon. 'One of the Girl from my villages is expecting 5th children in her 29th year of age and interestingly she get married at the age of 22-23 year.' We should go for maternal health but not at the cost of population stabilization strategy.

from:  Lord Wasim Reza
Posted on: Oct 3, 2011 at 11:43 IST

Universal health care is better said than done. Also it is no excuse for producing unlimited children that can dilute health care services. The first requirement for keeping health is to nurture the body with adequate nutritional foods. Unless this is achieved, India will produce excessive substandard human beings making the nation weak with uncontrolled population increase. Unless the population explosion is controlled, India will be heading towards disaster which will cost the treasury uncontrollably. Appointing any number of commissions will not help without them coming up with solutions for adequate food supply and undesirable population explosion.

from:  Dr. Lux
Posted on: Oct 3, 2011 at 00:23 IST
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