With one woman dying every 12 minutes due to pregnancy-related health issues in India, the government today launched a campaign to provide free and comprehensive antenatal care on the 9th day of every month. Under the Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA), pregnant women will be provided special antenatal check-up in their second or third trimester at government health care facilities.
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These services include ultrasound, blood and urine tests, in addition to routine antenatal check-up. The primary objective of the programme is to identify and initiate follow-up actions on high-risk pregnancies to reduce maternal mortality rate (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR).
The campaign aims at providing free antenatal care to about three crore women across the country. 184 priority districts have been identified for greater focus on antenatal care.
The programme will rely on a network of private medical practitioners who can provide their services at a government hospital located close to them.
Keeping in view the objective, a web portal as well as a mobile application were inaugurated which will facilitate engagement with private sector doctors and encourage them to volunteer for the campaign.
Obstetricians, radiologists and physicians who wish to volunteer on the 9th of every month can register themselves on the website or the mobile application. Thereafter, the chief medical officer of the district to which the volunteer belongs to will get in touch with the doctor concerned.
At the launch of the programme, Health and Family Welfare Minister JP Nadda said, “This isn’t ‘health for all’ but ‘health by all’. We want to make this into a movement.
“Our pace of reduction of infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate is better than the rest of the world. However, it is not the time for us to be satisfied. We need to do more and provide better access to medical care in remote areas,” he said.
Director General of Health Services Jagdish Prasad appealed to the doctors to spare a day every month for the cause.
1500 doctors from Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI) have so far pledged their support to the programme, which is also backed by the Indian Medical Association.
According to Dr Gagan Gupta, Senior Health Specialist, UNICEF, “India has made very good progress, India has made better progress than the world. However, India has the second highest MMR in the world. In India, we have 167 maternal deaths per 1,00,000 births. 44,000 women die annually or 120 die per day because of pregnancy-related health issues.”
“But these are preventable deaths which happen because of poor access to health facilities. The aim of the programme is to provide these facilities in the remote corners of the country and monitor women during their pregnancy and flag any health issues they might be suffering from,” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had first mooted such a scheme for expectant mothers during his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio broadcast on July 31.