The death of a woman after delivering a child has brought to fore Jharkhand’s poor maternal health status. Chandramuni Kumari, a tribal resident of Ranchi’s Namkum, died on February 20 after delivering a healthy girl child.
Ironically, she was one of Jharkhand’s 40,964 Sahiyyas, who are Accredited Social Health Activist for assisting pregnant women.
The state health department ruled out medical negligence. “She died due to postpartum haemorrhage. The medical team was able to manage it using Oxytocin IV, but she bled again. There was no option but refer her to RIMS,” said Ranchi’s Civil Surgeon Gopal Srivastava. Staff at the Community Health Centre (CHC) at Namkum allegedly asked for a bribe to stitch her and the stitches were allegedly done twice. Like 69.6 per cent of Jharkhand’s women (National Family Health Survey-3, 2005-’06), Chandramuni (25) was anaemic. It also brought into picture Jharkhand’s status of having one of the highest Maternal Mortality Rates.
Sahiyya for Madhya Dungri and surrounding areas since 2012, Chandramuni had assisted about 15-20 pregnant women, visiting them and accompanying them to CHC for delivery. They all delivered safely. Her family alleged the CHC took too long to refer her to Ranchi’s Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS). RIMS doctors declared Chandramuni dead on arrival.
After she experienced pain on February 19, Chandramuni’s family called for a Mamta Vahan (vehicle to carry pregnant women to hospitals) at around 1.00 AM the next day, on February 20. She reached the CHC at 2.30 AM and delivered at 10.35 AM.
Two women from Dungri who were with her said she began bleeding. “There was no doctor inside the room. Two ANMs (Auxiliary Nurse Midwife) handled the delivery,” said Desanti Devi, a neighbour. She claimed ANMs asked for a bribe. “They wanted money for stitching her. I gave Rs 350. When their shift ended and two other ANMs came, they took one look at the stitches and said they were not done well. It had to be done all over again,” said Desanti. “There were two deliveries after Chandramuni’s. They left even as we waited in the labour room, with her bleeding. She felt dizzy twice. Then, two clots came out. When I saw that, I knew they would not be able to save her at the CHC,” said midwife Sukramani Kachhap who had accompanied Chandramuni.
The government has made medical services free for pregnant women. “We were married for seven years but she did not conceive. So, when she did, we thought it was best to go to a private doctor first,” said Inder Munda (30), her husband. Inder believes she could have been saved if the CHC had referred her to RIMS earlier. CHC officials were not available for comment.