Siraha hospital denies postpartum mothers safe motherhood incentivesRam Kumar Uma Prasad Memorial Hospital has not received the budget for Safe Motherhood Programme in the current fiscal year from the provincial government.
Under the Safe Motherhood Programme, new mothers and babies are eligible for free medical treatment costs, transportation allowance and cash incentives for antenatal and postnatal checkups. But the Ram Kumar Uma Prasad Memorial Hospital, in Siraha, despite running the Safe Motherhood Programme as part of a bid to ensure safe births, has failed to provide incentives and free medications to new mothers visiting the hospital. According to the hospital administration, the hospital has not received the budget for the Safe Motherhood Programme in the current fiscal year.
Punamdevi Yadav, a local of Sakhuwanankarkatti, who gave birth to her son in the hospital on December 19, said her attendant had to purchase medicines, which they should have received free of cost from a nearby drug store. “My attendant had to buy an anti-D injection (one ampoule) from a drug store paying Rs 600. Although the hospital had announced free delivery services under the Safe Motherhood Programme, we have been compelled to purchase medicines from outside the hospital.”
Taking advantage of the lack of free medicines in the hospital, pharmaceuticals outside the hospital are charging anywhere between Rs 500 to Rs 4,000 for one anti-D injection. “I came here because of the promised services but instead of receiving free delivery services, travel and transportation allowances we had to purchase medicines from a drug store,” said Manju Kumari Sah of Lahan Municipality, who also delivered her baby in the hospital on December 25.
According to the hospital, the then-District Public Health Office used to send anti-D injection to the hospital until a year ago. Budur Bhagat, a medical recorder officer of the hospital, said the hospital has not received injection this year. “We have advised new mothers and their attendants to keep the bills of the medicines safely. If the office releases budget, we will reimburse their expenses,” said Bhagat.
According to the data of the hospital, 1,654 women have given birth in the hospital in the first five months of the current fiscal year and none of them received the free services nor the allowances from the hospital.
The government provides allowances to pregnant women who undergo safe delivery in health institutions. Women in the mountainous, hilly and the Tarai regions are entitled to 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.
The hospital administration has assured new mothers that they will be reimbursing their medical bills and giving them their due allowances once they receive the budget. Dr Sunil Kushwaha, medical superintendent at the hospital, said that the provincial government has not sent necessary budget for the Safe Motherhood Programme yet.
“The process has been delayed, as the central level has yet to send budget to the Ministry of Social Development of the province,” said Kushwaha, adding that the ministry directly sends budget to the hospital after the removal of the District Public Health Office since the adoption of federalism.