Maternity and newborn care services affected in BaglungPregnant women in rural areas have been referred to district headquarters due to shortage of employees.
Maternity and newborn care services in the birthing centres of Baglung Municipality have been affected after the local unit removed all assistants appointed to help Auxiliary Nurse Midwives, citing lack of budget.
The municipal office, this fiscal year, took the step after the federal government failed to release conditional grants to birthing centres in the municipality. This has adversely affected health services in Rayadanda, Tityang, Paiyupata, and Narayansthan.
Because of the shortage of staff at the birthing centres, health workers have no choice but to send pregnant women to the district headquarters for treatment, said Senior Auxiliary Health Worker Somraj Pandey.
“There are Auxiliary Nurse Midwives in birthing centres but they cannot provide care to pregnant women without assistants,” said Pandey.
The federal government provides Rs 1,000 each to those pregnant women who give birth at a health centre. Out of the amount, birthing centres use Rs 700 to purchase essential materials for new mothers and set aside Rs 300 as incentives for health workers.
Last year, Badigad Rural Municipality received the stipulated budget for the first quarter of the fiscal year only.
“We haven’t sent the budget to the health centres in Badigad, as we haven’t received the amount from the federal government,” said Niranjan Yadav, an official at the rural municipality. This budget crunch has threatened to turn birthing centres defunct, he added.
However, to avoid further crisis in maternity and newborn services, Pradeep Chandra Subedi, chief administrative officer, said he has made other provisions to fund health centres in the municipality.
“We are planning to distribute allowances to health workers by using the internal fund of the rural municipality,” Subedi said.
Tamankhola Rural Municipality has already taken initiatives to help its birthing centres and new mothers. Garima Harmale, an Auxiliary Health Worker of Tamankhola Rural Municipality, said that they have used the rural municipality’s funds to purchase essential materials for new mothers.
“We haven’t received incentives but we are doing what we can to extend our services to new mothers,” said Harmale.
Currently, there are 47 birthing centers in the district. Pregnant women admitted at government health facilities are entitled to encouragement and transportation allowances as part of a bid to ensure safe delivery.
As per the existing legal provisions, a new mother is entitled to Rs 2,000 and warm clothes. However, in the absence of government incentives, some of the health facilities have mobilised their internal funds to provide encouragement and transportation allowances to pregnant women and new mothers. Out of 269 mothers in Badigad Rural Municipality, only 134 received the allowance in the last fiscal.
Dev Prakash Ghimire, an official of the Health Office in Baglung, said that the concerned authority should inform the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Social Development to solve the crisis.
“If these problems are not immediately sorted, pregnant women in rural areas will continue facing difficulties,” said Ghimire.