23 lakh pregnant women 'missing' in Rajasthan from 2011-16
In just five years from 2011 to 2016, 23 lakh pregnant women from Rajasthan dropped off the health department's radar, a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report has revealed. Only 72lakh of the 95lakh women who had registered for ante-natal checks delivered babies - 67lakh had institutional deliveries, while the other 5lakh delivered at home with the help of relatives or untrained nurses ('dai').
According to NITI Aayog data, Rajasthan had a Maternal Mortality Rate or MMR (annual number of pregnant women's deaths per 100,000 live births) of 244 in 2011-13, down from 388 in 2004-06. The target was to reduce it to 150 by 2015-17.
Ante-natal checks under the National Rural Health Mission cover women throughout pregnancy, up to delivery. However, loss of pregnancy due to miscarriage, abortion or medical termination, or simply non-reporting, might lead to the creation of an unaccounted population of registered women. "We are collecting information to track these missing deliveries and will soon get to the reason," said Naveen Jain, Mission Director, NHM Rajasthan.
Several posts of medical experts at Community Health Centres lie vacant - compared to 382 requirements, only 14 obstetricians and gynaecologists are serving at CHCs. Similarly, only 11 of the required 382 pediatricians, and 148 of 1,528 specialists, are appointed. Many who could benefit from schemes like Janani Suraksha Yojana also fail to get assured incentives due to unintentional non-compliance with norms.
Rajasthan has launched special initiatives to check MMR. In May 2015, it launched a unique reward: mobile recharges of Rs. 200 to the first informer of a maternal death. It also decided to distribute the government's assured five litres of ghee in two phases: three litres during pregnancy and two after childbirth. The Centre launched the Janani Suraksha Yojana in 2005 for lower MMR.