DEHRADUN: There’s hope for children whose mother dies during childbirth: the Uttarakhand health department plans to set up a ‘mother milk bank,’ the first such facility in the state. “The facility can bring nutritional elements of mother’s milk to the newborn to a great extent,” Health Minister Dr Dhan Singh Rawat told this newspaper.
“Under this scheme, lactating women will be able to donate milk to the bank,” said the health minister.
According to the National Health Mission’s Sample Registration System (SRS) report in 2021, Uttarakhand had the third-highest infant mortality rate of 27 deaths per 1,000 live births among 10 Himalayan states of the country after Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.
“To reduce the infant mortality rate in the state, the government is focusing on institutional delivery of pregnant women. Due to government efforts, the state has been ranked better in infant mortality rate. Efforts are on to make it better,” said the minister.
The government has made arrangements to take pregnant women to a hospital free of cost. Under a scheme, pregnant women are given Rs 2,000, Rs 1,500 for the mother’s food and Rs 500 for the child’s naming ceremony.
“The administration will now take a tough stand on government doctors exiting a service bond of Rs 5 lakh. We have now increased the exiting bond amount to as high as Rs 2.5 crore for a specialist doctor and Rs 1 crore for the MBBS doctor,” he said.
By the year 2025, the state aims to overcome the shortage of surgeons in the state. That looks like a difficult task given the fact that healthcare facilities are dismal in remote areas and ensuring proper training of ground-level healthcare workers is difficult. Government sources say if paid well, the healthcare workers can in turn guide the new mothers in childcare.