Improving health of mother and child vital to increase equity, reduce poverty: Azad

New Delhi, Feb. 1 (ANI): Asserting that the key to the country's progress lies in reducing maternal and child mortality and morbidity, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday said improving the health of mother and child is vital to increase equity and reduce poverty.

Azad, who presided over the meeting of Consultative Committee of Parliament attached to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare here, in his opening remarks, said 'over the years, the Government of India has taken many initiatives, and results are now becoming evident'.

"After the launch of NRHM in 2005, significant improvements have taken place in building health infrastructure in the country," he added.

Azad said the visibility of NRHM is reflected in increased caseloads in out-door and in-door health facilities, improvement in the infrastructure, and in the quality of services at health facilities, right from the district hospitals to the community health centres and primary health centres.

"Decentralized planning, flexibility and empowerment in utilization of funds and involvement of Public Representatives, Civil society and professional bodies have contributed to these changes. However, with the current levels of progress towards achieving our targets for the reduction of MMR, IMR, TFR and other indicators, we will not be able to achieve our international commitments on the MDGs. While some states have shown good progress under the NRHM, there are states, which have to work harder to fulfill the expectations of the people," said Azad.

"An extra impetus needs to be given to efforts to accelerate the pace of decline in maternal and child mortality in the country," he added.

Azad said the JSY Scheme has brought about a surge in institutional deliveries and huge financial uptakes in most states.

"Launch of JSSK in 2011 has further strengthened maternal health initiatives by entitling free deliveries and C-Sections to every pregnant woman coming for deliveries at government health facility. The transport from the health facility, drop back and any referrals between facilities is also free for the pregnant women coming to government health facility. This ensures nil out of pocket expenditure for the women and their families," said Azad.

"Even the sick newborns are treated free without any expense on diagnostics, drugs, consumables, diet, transport, etc. The JSY and JSSK programmes have incentivized pregnant women to access healthcare in greater numbers," he added.

The Health and Family Welfare Minister said the government is now funding creation of Maternal and Child Health Wing, which will improve the bed capacity in district hospitals and medical colleges, overburdened with increased delivery loads.

"In addition to this, steps have also been taken to create networks of basic and advanced ambulances for covering even the remote and inaccessible areas. Besides free drugs for pregnant women and sick newborns, funds would be given for purchase of drugs for all types of illness for patients coming to government health facilities in an attempt to universalize healthcare. The Government of India is soon going to initiate comprehensive medical check-ups for all school going children and even those who are out of schools," said Azad.

"A mobile team of doctors and other supporting staff has been granted to the states for implementation of universal screening of children. Universal supplementation of iron and folic acid has been initiated to overcome the burden of anaemia among the adolescents. This programme will cover about 13 crores adolescents. Simultaneously, steps have been taken for preventing common illness like hypertension, diabetes, etc. A screening programme for these illnesses has been initiated in hundred districts of the country. The same will be expanded to other parts of the country soon," he added.

Azad further said the states have been asked to review and analyse every maternal death so that corrective actions can be taken for preventing such types of deaths.

"A BPO type centralized call centre has been set up to track whether the benefits and services given to each and every pregnant women and infant are reaching to them or not," he added.

Shailendra Kumar (LS), Datta R. Meghe (LS), BishnuPada Ray (LS), Prasanta Kumar Majumdar (LS), Dr. Virendra Kumar (LS), MotilalVora (RS), K.V.P. RamachandraRao (RS) and BaishnabParida (RS) attended today's consultative meeting. (ANI)

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