Times of India, Sept 6, 2015
BHAWANIPATNA: Even though Kalahandi has been receiving special focus in implementation of several welfare schemes for more than a decade now, child healthcare continues to paint a dismal picture.
According to official data, infant death rate in the district has increased from 951 deaths out of 25,470 newborns in 2013-14 to 1,116 deaths out of 25,882 newborns in 2014-2015.
Reports from far-flung areas said deliveries are made at home because people can't reach the nearest community health centre (CHC) in time due to the inaccessible terrain. Baduli Majhi, 25, gave birth to a baby girl in Madanpur Rampur block's Pilabanji village, 100 km from here, on August 25 night. The mother's health began to deteriorate after the delivery. Next day, her husband Rana Majhi brought her to the main road on a cot with the help of villagers walking seven km. Then they called an ambulance and the person manning it said it would take one hour to reach the spot. They could not wait for the ambulance and further walked five km to reach the CHC. Luckily, the mother and the baby remained safe.
People in remote pockets like Lanjigarh, Thuamul Rampur and M Rampur cannot reach the nearest health centre due overflowing nullahs in the rains. With no other options they are forced to take the help of quacks.
Health authorities said in the remote pockets, pregnant women seldom heed health workers' advice regarding precautions to be taken during pregnancy resulting in newborn deaths.
Chief district medical officer (CDMO) Braja Kishore Brahma said most infant deaths are reported because of birth asphyxia, respiratory infection, low birth weight (LBW) and premature delivery.
In 2014-15, as many as 194 infants died of 1,585 admitted to the sick newborn care unit (SNCU) of district headquarters hospital at Bhawanipatna. The SNCU has 12 beds, which is much below the requirement. Three paediatricians have been appointed in Bhawanipatna but there is no paediatrician in nine blocks, where trained nurses, auxiliary nurse midwives and AYUSH doctors take care of the newborns. Of the 23 paediatrician posts in the district, 17 are lying vacant.
"Due to the overload of infants in the 40-bed children ward in the Bhawanipatna hospital, many babies are treated on the floor as on an average 150 children are admitted daily," the CDMO said.
From April to June, 31% LBW babies were reported in the district. The babies weighed less than 2.5 kg and the measure cause behind the LBW is poor nutrition in pregnant women, said a doctor. "Most of the babies weigh between 1,500 and 1,700 gm because of nutrition deficiency among the mothers," said an official of the NHM Santosh Kumar Ojha.
A 220-bed maternal child healthcare unit is under construction at a cost of Rs 16 crore at Bhawanipatna. The unit, funded by the NHM, is expected to be completed by this year-end.