NATIONAL

20,000 more beds for maternal, child health care

To meet the growing demand for institutional deliveries, the government has enhanced the bed capacity of public health facilities exclusively for mother and child care by a whopping 20,000 beds.

To be implemented under the Reproductive and Child Health scheme, the increase in the bed numbers will benefit 10 States that have bad health indicators but a heavy patient load for institutional deliveries. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has set a target of two to two-and-half years for the additional infrastructure to become functional.

In many cases, the beds will be added as separate maternal and child health wings to the District Hospitals. Once fully functional, common sites like women sharing beds before and after delivery or having to recuperate in the corridors will no more be seen. “There has been a high demand for institutional deliveries after the Janani Suraksha Yojana scheme was initiated which has gone up exponentially with the Janani Shishu Suraksha Yojana launched in 2010. However, the infrastructure has not kept pace with the demand,’’ Anuradha Gupta, Additional Secretary in Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said.

The Ministry has identified 267 public health facilities in these 10 States where mother and child health wings would be established.

At the other identified facilities at the level of community health centres and primary health centres 30 to 50 beds would be added.

State-of-the-art facility

The mother and child wings will have a state-of-the-art labour rooms, operation theatres, sick newborn care units, post partum services and even family planning and adolescent services.

The scheme of providing additional beds involves a cost of about Rs 3,000 crore of which Rs 1,206 crore has been released. “The additional facilities were added to the existing facilities as the supporting infrastructure like blood bank, pathology laboratories and imaging facilities are already there. The district hospitals have enough space for expansion,’’ Ms Gupta added.

Chhattisgarh has been provided additional bed strength in 35 health facilities, Rajasthan in 22, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh in 10 each respectively, Andhra Pradesh in 31, Assam in 34, Uttarakhand in 2, Uttar Pradesh in 50 and West Bengal in 10.

Before the scheme was launched, the government mapped the health facilities in the country and identified 18,000 functional facilities of which those ‘delivery points’ having a high patient load were identified for strengthening.

In States like Punjab and Rajasthan where road connectivity is good and distances less, only district hospitals were identified for additional beds, Ms Gupta explained.

The Ministry believes that initiatives like the Janani Suraksha Yojana where women are paid for delivering in a health facility, the Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram that entitled women and newborns to free medicines, food, and blood for up to a month in a hospital and even free transportation services have drawn women to hospitals for deliveries.