Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Phulnakhara (Cuttack), June 1:
In a shocking incident that has exposed the real state of affairs of the much trumpeted ‘Mamata Yojana’ of the Odisha government, a woman had to deliver her baby on the verandah of a house on the roadside after writhing in pain for a night for her failure to pay an amount of Rs 200 to the Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) worker she had promised to pay as bribe during her first delivery.
The ASHA worker allegedly refused to take Dutia Sahu, wife of Radha Sahu, a resident of Gopalpur village under ward no. 57 of Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC), to the hospital for delivery. Despite Dutia’s desperate and repeated pleadings, she was neither taken to a hospital nor did the 102 ambulance arrive. The reason: she had not paid the balance amount of Rs 200 out of the Rs 1,500 bribe sought by the ASHA worker to get her first delivery done at the SCB Medical College & Hospital in 2011.
According to Dutia, wife of Radha Sahu, natives of Nayagarh district currently staying on rent in Gopalpur village within CMC limits, she had delivered her first child, a baby girl, at SCB Medical College & Hospital in 2011.
At that time, ASHA worker Sujata Nayak had allegedly sought Rs 1500 from her. Dutia claimed that she paid Rs 1,300 and promised to pay the remaining Rs 200 later, which she failed to pay.
In the meantime, she got pregnant for the second time. Around 2 AM last Saturday, she developed labour pain and allegedly visited Sujata’s house asking her to take her to a hospital.
However, Sujata allegedly told her point-blank that since she hasn’t paid her the ‘arrear’ of Rs 200 she couldn’t accompany her to the hospital.
On her way back home, she took shelter on the verandah of a house on the roadside as her pains intensified and wreathed in pain for the whole night.
On noticing her on the verandah in the morning, villagers informed the ASHA worker. On her refusal to attend, village women with the help of a midwife (dhai) managed to get the delivery done on the verandah.
Surprisingly, the villagers did not get a response even after calling desperately for the ‘108 ambulance services’ over phone for more than two hours.
“On contacting ‘102 ambulance service, we were told that the service was not available in urban area. We were asked to come to a Community Health Centre (CHC) 40 km away,” complained Pradip Behera, a former corporator of CMC.
As news of the incident spread like wildfire in the area, Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) Sarita Nayak, Lady Health Visitor (LHV) Ullahsini Swain, ASHA sathi Arati Mohanty and others visited the village at about 3 pm and rescued the woman and her child and admitted them to the City Hospital.
It may be noted that the state government has launched a state-specific scheme for pregnant women and lactating mothers called MAMATA – a conditional cash transfer maternity benefit scheme. The scheme provides monetary support to the pregnant and lactating women to enable them to seek improved nutrition and promote health seeking behavior.
The programme aims to encourage delivery at hospitals and ensure that no deliveries take place at home to cut down on maternal mortality rates (MMR) and infant mortality rates (IMR).
If this the state of affairs of the yojana, on which crores of rupees are being spent from the public exchequer, in urban areas, one can well imagine the state of affairs in remote rural areas.