HEALTH MINISTER Harsh Vardhan is set to announce this week a scheme that aims to bring down maternal and newborn deaths to zero.
The programme, named Pradhan Mantri — Assured and Safe Motherhood Initiative (PM-ASMI), will focus on providing quality medical services to pregnant women and infants at a public facility.
India has several ongoing schemes to ensure safe maternal and child health. These include Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram, which entitles pregnant women and infants to several free facilities, including free drugs and diagnostics, free delivery, free diet during stay in health institutions, free provision of blood, free transport from home to health institutions etc. There is also the Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan, under which, pregnant women can avail free ante-natal check-ups by private medical practitioners, and LaQshya, aimed at improving the condition of labour rooms.
“The idea of PM-ASMI is to integrate all of these programmes to ensure better access to free, quality medical services. It was imperative that before we could take this step, the public health facilities were in a position to cater to the demand that the campaign will create both in terms of infrastructure and quality of services. This has now happened. So, we can now state that there will be zero tolerance for denial of services and assured management of complications. All of this will be done in an atmosphere that takes care of the dignity of women, takes into account their choices and preferences,” said a senior official.
India’s maternal mortality rate has declined from 254 per 1,00,000 live births in 2004-06 to 130 in 2014-16. Between 2001 and 2016, the infant mortality rate came down from 66 per 1,000 live births to 34. With the National Health Mission putting infrastructure in place and the ongoing construction of health centres across the country, officials say it is now time to press the accelerator so that no mother or child is left behind and India is in a position to attain the Sustainable Development Goal for maternal mortality by 2030 — less than 70 deaths per 1,00,000 live births.
The ministry, along with the states, will undertake a massive publicity campaign to generate awareness about the scheme and also start a call centre for effective grievance redressal.
The idea is to ensure that every maternal death is registered, its causes analysed and lessons learnt implemented in the programme so that it becomes better.
Community engagement will also be a key component of the programme.