Modi’s SUMAN faces abortion in its early days in Odisha!

With MMR of 180/lakh during the period 2014-16, Odisha was ranked fourth from bottom in MMR. The national average MMR for the period was estimated at 130. High vacancy of 566 specialists may defeat SUMAN's purpose

Bhubaneswar: Just two-days after the launch of an ambitious initiative of Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan (SUMAN) by the Modi Government having a core message of zero tolerance for denial of maternity services to pregnant mothers, Odisha attained the dubious tag of being the first violator of SUMAN, when a pregnant woman had to deliver on hospital premises for denial of timely maternity services at the Capital Hospital, right in the heart of the State Capital.

As per reports, the woman, Pana Murmu, when reached Capital Hospital on October 11 evening post labour pain, was sent back by the the doctor in-charge refusing to accept it as labour pain. However, she delivered on the footpath outside blood bank of the Hospital, just an hour later. There are also allegations of not provisioning a bed for an expectant woman at such a late stage of pregnancy.

This sordid instance not only failed the SUMAN initiative but also bares the chinks in the maternity service delivery in the State.

Significantly, the proportion of safe deliveries in Odisha has been estimated at around 98 per cent, reveals the latest data available with State Health Department.

The data further claimed of only two districts – Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara – achieving 100 per cent safe deliveries during the period of April – July 2019. Notably, none of the districts had 100 per cent safe delivery rate in 2018-19.

Though the health department data claimed of 98 per cent safe delivery rate, the institutional deliveries proportion to the total deliveries in the State stood at around 97 per cent in the period April – July 2019. The proportion in 2018-19 was around 96 per cent.

Data with the State Health department reveals that Odisha had recorded 6,039 home deliveries during the period April – July 2019. But nearly 40 per cent of these deliveries could be termed as safe  because, such deliveries were assisted by skilled birth attendants.

Still, a high of 3,554 home deliveries were attended by  untrained midwives and trained TB workers, who are not skilled birth attendants. Therefore, such deliveries cannot be termed as safe deliveries.

The Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), which is number of women deaths per lakh live births, in Odisha during the period April to July stood at 114. In absolute terms, the State had recorded 208 maternal deaths vis-a-vis over 1.819 lakh live births during the period.

As per the Sample Registration Survey (SRS) results, the MMR in Odisha for the period 2014-16 was estimated at 180/lakh live births. The national average MMR for the period was estimated at 130. The State was ranked fourth from the bottom.

SUMAN, which aims at assuring dignified, respectful and quality health care at no cost in order to end all preventable maternal and newborn deaths and will simultaneously strive for ensuring a positive birth experience to both mother and infant, faces birth pangs in Odisha.

The reason: Odisha is unable to ensure so in every public health facility, because, when 1,480 specialist doctors, including gynaecologists and paediatricians, are required for its 370 Community Health Centres, only 884 are sanctioned, and of that mere 318 are in position. The result: A high vacancy of around 566 specialists  in Odisha.