Sonia Gandhi Inaugurates National Health Scheme For Women

UPA and National Advisory Council Chairperson Sonia Gandhi inaugurated yet another welfare scheme for women called Janani-Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram on June 1.  With a view to providing healthcare facilities to pregnant women and infants free of cost this ambitious scheme in English corresponding to National Reproductive and Child Health programme has been launched

Under this scheme, pregnant women will get free and cashless delivery, free C-section surgeries, free treatment of sick new-born up to 30 days, exemption from user charges, free drugs and consumables, free diagnostics, free diet during stay in the health facilities – for three days in case of normal delivery and seven days for Caesarean Section.

It also includes free provision of blood, free transport from home to health facilities, free transport between facilities in case of referral, and a drop back to home after a 48-hour stay.

The scheme has been launched to lower the country’s tremendously high maternal and infant mortality rate. 67,000 women in India die every year due to pregnancy-related complications. Annually, 13 lakh infants die within one year of birth.  Out of these nine lakh deaths happen within the first four weeks of life.

“To check such deaths, we will provide all facilities to pregnant women free of cost, including bringing them to hospital and dropping back home besides donating blood,” Sonia Gandhi said.  The scheme is expected to bring safe medical services to more than one crore rural and urban families every year.

The scheme will supplement Janani Sauraksha Yojana which was limited in scope and extent in that it was meant to promote institutional deliveries for women living below poverty line and its extent was limited to high risk states whereas the presently scheme is on All-India basis and covers all women needing such healthcare.

She said it was a matter of concern that despite all facilities and efforts, nearly 9 lakh infants died within the first month of their birth; and 67,000 pregnant women died during labour.

She expressed the hope that all states would implement the Janani-Shishu Suraksha Karyakram sincerely.

This scheme along with free ambulance service for pregnant women will improve the institutional delivery to 55% in the state. The scheme has been adopted for the entire country under the National Rural Health Mission.

Speaking on the occasion, Sonia Gandhi said government had always tried to give women their dues, constitutionally and legally. “If 50 per cent of the population lags behind, a Nation cannot progress,” she said, while expressing concern that the government was aware of the difficulties being faced by women in proving their talent due to social inhabitations.

“It is our duty to realise the talent of our women and take steps for their progress,” Sonia Gandhi said, while describing as unfortunate the high maternal and infant mortality rate in the country. She said the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), launched in 2005, had improved the overall healthcare facilities in the urban area, the new programme would focus on pregnant and nursing mothers and their new-born babies. “Even blood will be provided free of cost under the scheme,” she said.