New mothers deprived of state-announced incentivesLives of many women and their newborns at risk, health workers say
Many women and their newborns are at risk, as the health facilities in Humla have not distributed cash incentives in the last six months.
Under the government’s ‘Safe Motherhood Programme’, new mothers and their newborns are provided free medical treatment, transportation allowance and cash incentives for antenatal checkups. There are 26 birthing centres, along with the District Hospital, in Humla.
As per the record of the District Hospital, 461 pregnant women gave birth in the hospital in the current fiscal year. Among them, only 250 women received cash incentives. Dr Durga Surkhali, chief at the hospital, said that they are unable to distribute the incentives due to a lack of necessary budget.
“The provincial government has only provided Rs 600,000 budget, but we need around Rs 2.5 million to distribute allowances to all,” said Surkhali. “We have urged the concerned authorities to immediately release the additional budget to continue the programme.”
The government provides allowances to pregnant women who undergo safe delivery in health institutions. Women in the mountainous, hilly and Tarai regions should get Rs3,000, Rs2,000 and Rs1,000 respectively. Additionally, a cash bonus of Rs800 should be provided to mothers who complete all four antenatal checkups.
Half of the women who underwent delivery in the Humla District Hospital received the cash incentive. However, the number of women who gave birth in the birthing centres of remote areas is still unknown.
Manamaya Basnet, a public health nurse of the District Health Office (DHO), said that the DHO distributed incentives to some new mothers from the budget that they received this year.
“The lack of fund is putting the lives of women and their newborns at risk,” said Basnet, adding that the provincial government has not sent the additional budget even by the end of this fiscal year.