In an attempt to tackle the problem of underreporting of neonatal deaths in India, the Union Health Ministry has announced an incentive of Rs 1,000 for anyone who reports the death of a newborn baby or a new mother. Though such deaths in hospitals are reported duly, neonatal deaths, especially outside the hospitals, many a time, go underreported.

Government is setting up call centres where people can give information about neonatal deaths or the death of a new mother. A telephone number will soon be made public, which can be contacted to report such deaths.

 

Key Takeaways:

  • Under the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets, India’s maternal mortality rate has to be brought down to below 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030.
  • Only 52 percent of pregnant women have access to public health facilities for delivery services, according to government data.
  • Deaths that take place in the hospital are duly reported. But for deliveries that take place out of the hospital, a large number of deaths go unreported. 
  • It is these unreported deaths that the government aims to identify by providing an incentive to the people who inform about them.

Government Aims To Achieve Zero Preventable Maternal And Newborn Deaths By 2022

“We are looking at achieving zero preventable maternal and newborn deaths by 2022, for which there has to be 100% reporting of deaths as it would give experts the cause behind the loss of new mothers and newborns,” said Union health minister Harsh Vardhan, as per Hindustan Times.

Underreporting is a huge challenge that needs to be addressed to achieve the targets we have set for reducing maternal or infant mortality rate. We will be involving volunteers from within the community, such as NGOs, elected representatives at the panchayat level, self-help groups etc.- A Senior Health Ministry Official

As per 2017, about 8,02,000 infant deaths were reported according to the United Nations Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation. The UNIGIME report also said that India witnessed around 6,05,000 neonatal deaths in 2017 itself.  Also, the number of deaths among children aged 5-14 was 1,52,000.

A Toll-Free Number That Will Be Soon Made Public

The government is setting up call centers where people may call in order to inform about neonatal deaths or the death of a new mother. A number will soon be made public, which can be contacted to report such deaths.

Read More: Kerala’s Infant Mortality Rate Same As The US

“Underreporting is a huge challenge that needs to be addressed to achieve the targets we have set for reducing maternal or infant mortality rate. We will be involving volunteers from within the community, such as NGOs, elected representatives at the panchayat level, self-help groups etc. The incentive should help in people coming forward to inform the authorities,” a senior health ministry official requesting anonymity told Hindustan Times.

According to government data, only 52 percent of pregnant women access public health facilities for delivery services.

“Once a call has been made, we will send a team of experts to the spot to investigate the death. The documentation will happen accordingly. Apart from reporting of deaths, the ministry also has zero-tolerance for any negligence in providing maternal services, especially denying treatment or care. A robust grievance redressal mechanism is being built and complaints will be addressed in a time-bound manner,” the official added.

Also according to the government data, only 52 per cent of pregnant women access public health facilities for delivery services. Under the Sustainable Development Goals, India’s maternal mortality rate has to be brought down to below 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030.  “The global target is 2030, but the health minister has set an early target of 2022. Integrating all the existing schemes will help in providing wide access to quality care services,” said the official.

Picture Credit- ABC

Read More: Manipur’s Infant Mortality Rate Lowest In India

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