Government to focus on maternal, child health in 250 districts


New Delhi : The central government is planning a special programme focusing on 250 districts in states such as Bihar and Chhattisgarh that are lagging behind in maternal and child health.

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“The maternal mortality rate is 230 per lakh live births at present in India. We are progressing at a rate of four percent per year since 1990, but more needs to be done,” Health Secretary Sujatha Rao said at a press conference here.

“While some states have done well, some like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and some other northern states are lagging far behind. The focus is to improve health services in these states,” Rao said.

The programme will provide a “complete set of guaranteed services” that will include even clothes for the baby and the mother from a below poverty line (BPL) family. It will also provide “good hospital environment, free transport and skilled doctors and nurses”, Rao said.

“The gap in human resource, however, still needs to be focused upon.”

The health secretary added that the government was focusing on involving private sector as well.

“There are many private clinics that are not covered under government schemes. Around January, the health minister will announce the plan which is being worked upon,” she said.

The government, she disclosed, was trying to identify private clinics where women could be referred to. “We will also have to negotiate on the prices private clinics should charge.”

According to the health secretary, maternal care needed to be seen as a collective issue, including factors like education, gender empowerment, poverty and other socio-economic issues.