VELLORE: While the birth rate has marginally declined in Vellore district, the number of deliveries at the government healthcare institutions such as the Primary Health Centres (PHC) has increased considerably in the past five years, signalling reduction in the maternal and infant mortalities.
What makes PHCs a preferable destination for pregnant women to be delivered of their babies there? “The maternity benefits offered by the State have come as major boost to the poor women. The medical technological upgradation and patient-friendly approach at the PHCs have become an added attraction for them,” said Dr Poonkodi, deputy director of health services, here.
According to her 70 per cent of deliveries are being conducted in government healthcare institutions, particularly in the PHC and the government hospitals. The PHCs that used to handle 4 per cent of the total deliveries in 2005-6 are attending to 42 per cent delivery cases this year.
Welfare initiatives such as maternity assistance and free and focused healthcare services have achieved the twin goals of ensuring safe deliveries at government institutions thus preventing maternal and infant mortalities (maternal mortality rate which was 1.98 per cent in 2001 has come down to 0.69 per cent this year!) while making PHCs the preferred destination for the poorer sections of society. “I prefer PHC to the crowded government hospitals because I get peaceful and personal attention at the PHC,” said Suganthi, who was delivered of her second baby at a PHC recently.
The ambulance operators are also provided with the list of expected date of deliveries in the region so that they could collaborate with the families of the pregnant women for the timely transportation. After the delivery, the mothers are taken care of at the PHC; are provided free diet and immunisation services for the baby and the mother and baby are transported back home by the PHC vehicle under the Janani-Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK) scheme as part of the National Rural Health Mission. Another scheme ‘Hospital on Wheels’, monitors mothers and offers them general out-patient services and post-natal care during the one month critical period for the baby.
Vellore district has 20 blocks and each block has an upgraded PHC with 30 beds and equipped with facilities such as ultrasonagram, ECG, X-ray, lab investigations and a mini-theatre to handle general cases covering a population of 30,000 each.