Special Correspondent

Centres to provide basic emergency obstetric care

Essential newborn care, referral for emergencies, ante-natal care and routine immunisation services to be provided States will have to ensure adequate financial autonomy to PHCs

NEW DELHI: Concerned over the high maternal mortality ratio, the Health and Family Welfare Ministry has come out with guidelines to make primary health centres (PHCs) 24-hour delivery and new-born care units.

The Reproductive and Child Health-II of the Ministry envisages making 50 per cent of the existing primary health centres and community health centres operational round-the-clock, in a phased manner, by the year 2010.

These centres, to function as first referral units, will be responsible for providing basic emergency obstetric care and essential newborn resuscitation services.

24-hour service

The 24-hour service would include facilities for normal and assisted deliveries, essential newborn care, referral for emergencies, ante-natal care and routine immunisation services for children and pregnant women, early and safe abortion services, family planning counselling, prevention and management of Reproductive Tract Infections and Sexually Transmitted Infections, besides essential laboratory facilities.

Visualising that the absence of staff skilled in conducting assisted deliveries and other specialised intervention as a problem likely to be faced by the PHCs, the Ministry has advised the States that they ensure that the staff are fully trained or re-oriented in a full range of delivery services and management of obstetric complications.

The State Governments will also have to ensure adequate level of financial autonomy to the Primary Health Centres to enable them to locally purchase drugs and minor equipment, make local arrangements for referral transport, outsource non-clinical services and hire locally available medical and paramedical staff, if required.