Novel campaign saving women’s lives in Rajasthan’s Bikaner

Awareness drive among pregnant women and adolescent girls has reduced maternal deaths in district from 70 last year to 32 this year and enabled 63.86% women to benefit from antenatal check-ups 

Published - October 16, 2022 01:18 am IST - Jaipur

Interactive session: Women attend a ‘Pukaar Pathshala’ at Khajuwala village in Bikaner district. 

Interactive session: Women attend a ‘Pukaar Pathshala’ at Khajuwala village in Bikaner district.  | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT 

An innovative campaign launched in Rajasthan’s Bikaner in April to spread awareness of maternal and child health among pregnant and lactating women and adolescent girls has reduced maternal deaths in the district from 70 last year to 32 this year.

According to the district administration, the Pukaar (proclamation) campaign has enabled government representatives to exchange information on institutional deliveries, nutrition during pregnancy, and necessary tests and vaccination with over 2.34 lakh women and 92,300 adolescent girls. The initiative has led to a dip in maternal mortality rate, recovery from anaemia, rise in institutional deliveries and better vaccination and nutrition levels among children in the district.

Over 10,000 workshops

Bikaner Collector Bhagwati Prasad Kalal told The Hindu that so far over 10,300 ‘Pukaar Pathshalas’ have been held every Wednesday in each village panchayat and municipal ward in the district to apprise women of the precautions to be taken from conception till a child turns two. The initiative has started taking the shape of a people’s movement with a direct communication being established with the women at the meetings, he said.

No extra expenditure is incurred on the meetings, which witnesses the participation of anganwadi workers and sathins (village-level workers of the State’s Women’s Development Programme).

Positive results

“We have succeeded in saving the lives of women with our continuous efforts. Our anaemia management programme has witnessed an improvement, with the number of women with 8 to 9 grams of haemoglobin coming down from 39.75% last year to 24.27% this year,” Mr. Kalal said.

As a result of the campaign, institutional deliveries have increased from 74.44% last year to 76.98 % this year and the number of children getting full immunisation has jumped to 86.65 % this year, he said. For the first time, 63.86% of women have benefited from antenatal check-ups.

At the meetings, which are held near the houses of pregnant and lactating women based on the availability of space, women give their opinion on various issues and representatives of the departments of Health and Women & Child Development provide guidance on holistic care for women and children.

Mr. Kalal said the participants have also benefited from information on the schemes related to women’s empowerment. The campaign has been helpful in explaining the concept of early childhood development to local communities. It has laid an emphasis on protection of children’s right to develop their full cognitive, emotional, social and physical potential, the Collector said.

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