Welfare schemes for pregnant women reneging on promises

Welfare schemes for pregnant women reneging on promises
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Budgam/Srinagar: The J&K health department may boast of the award it received for improvement in primary and secondary healthcare, but schemes like the Janani Suraksha Yojna (JSK) and Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK) are still a failure in many districts.
In Budgam, a large number of pregnant women admitted for deliveries at government hospitals have been denied the cash incentive and transport facility provided in the schemes.
The JSSK is a centrally-sponsored scheme that began in 2012 to provide healthcare to mother and child during and after delivery. The annual reviews of the scheme by the Union health ministry have painted a grim picture of its implementation in Budgam.
The JSY is similarly poorly implemented, despite sufficient funds allocated for it.
“The mothers have neither been provided cash incentives nor transport facilities to hospitals,” said Nazir Ahmad, a resident of Magam area in Budgam. “Pregnant women are being denied the facilities that they are entitled to under the JSSK and JSY.”
Under JSY, a woman is entitled to cash benefit of Rs 1,400 for each delivery in rural areas and of Rs 1,000 in urban areas. Under the JSSK, all expenses related to delivery in public health institutions or in accredited private hospitals are borne by the government. A woman is entitled to free transport to the hospital as well as back to her home after delivery.
Parveena Bano of Kremshar village of Budgam told Kashmir Reader that she had not been provided transport facility even after repeated requests by her family.
“I was admitted at District Hospital Budgam where I delivered a baby boy, but I was not given any cash incentive. The administration told me that I am not entitled to the cash benefit in the hospital,” she said.
30-year-old Mehreen of Dardpora said she was admitted for her second delivery at District Hospital Budgam, but received no benefits of any scheme. “On my first delivery I was asked to open an account. I did so, but no money has been deposited in it. I didn’t get the cash incentive (under the JSY),” she said.
Hilal Ahmed, a resident of Khan Sahab area, said that he hired a vehicle to admit his sister for delivery at the district hospital. He said he was not provided any transportation charges.
The health ministry’s official reviews and reports have also noted many complaints of delay and denial of payment.
Chief Medical Officer Budgam, Dr GM Dar, admitted that there had been some delay in the release of payments. He said various reasons were responsible for this, including the delay in release of funds from the Government of India. He also blamed the people for being “reluctant” to follow rules.
“The payment gets delayed due to various reasons. Sometimes we don’t get money on time from the Government of India. Patients and their attendants are also responsible for the delay as they are reluctant to open bank accounts for the release of money,” Dar told Kashmir Reader.
The JSY, launched with the objective to reduce maternal and neo-natal mortality, has failed to serve its purpose in J&K.
As per the official review, nearly 40 percent of the entitled beneficiaries have been denied the incentives in the past two years.
“Nearly 1.15 lakh mothers have been denied the cash incentives, of the nearly 2.9 lakh women registered under JSY between 2014 and 2016,” the health ministry’s annual review report said.
The percentage of JSY beneficiaries who have received their entitlements is least in Srinagar district, with only 10 percent pregnant woman getting the JSY incentive. Budgam district is not much better, with only 30 percent beneficiaries getting their due.
Although institutional deliveries have increased since the launch of JSY, but the success envisaged from the scheme has fallen well short. The health ministry’s report says that the decade-old central government scheme that pays women up to Rs 1,400 to give birth in government health facilities or accredited private health centres has taken institutional deliveries up to 90 percent. However, the scheme has achieved only 60 percent success in J&K.
“In J&K nearly Rs 14 crore funds meant for the scheme have lapsed, as authorities failed to release them to the beneficiaries,” the report says.
The figures have been corroborated by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, J&K Planning and Development Department, and the Rapid Survey on Children (RSOC) conducted in 2013-14.
As per the RSOC survey, only 58.7 percent women availed the cash benefit of JSY scheme in J&K.
Another study, titled ‘Functioning and Evaluation of JSY under the NRHM (National Rural Health Mission)’ has revealed that “majority of the beneficiaries were aware of the JSY and the delay in the receipt of incentive was observed across all the blocks.”
The study covered three administrative blocks in Srinagar, Budgam and Pulwama districts. It interviewed 349 beneficiaries and 22 accredited social health activists (ASHA workers).
“Only 36 percent (of respondents) had received the money at the time of the survey and only 34 percent had received postnatal care,” it revealed.
State government records reveal that the disbursal of money also gets delayed in tertiary-care hospitals. A government inquiry earlier revealed that at the GB Pant hospital, JSSK funds remained un-utilised for several months in 2012.
“Under the (JSSK) scheme, Rs 25 lakh was provided to the hospital for utilisation under different activities for patient care. The budget was provided 4 months back but the whole amount remained unspent,” noted a government report.


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