Pregnant women to get free medicines, diet in govt hospitals

New Delhi: In new initiatives to tackle maternal and infant mortality, the Union Health Ministry plans to ensure free medicines and diet for pregnant women in government hospitals from next month and monitor immunization status of children in states through a tracking system.

The government has asked all the states to ensure free and cashless services to all pregnant women delivering in government health institutions as well as to sick neonates.

"The scheme for pregnant women will start from June 1 under which free medicines, free diet during stay and free transport to health facility and back home will be ensured," Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters on Wednesday.

Noting that the government of India provides vaccines and meets operational costs for immunisation of children, he said it is required to monitor whether the exercise is being done properly in states or data is being fudged.

"Henceforth, record will have to be kept of name of the child vaccinated as well as address and especially telephone numbers of the parents, or any neighbour so that we can
monitor the data. This tracking system will help ensure full immunisation and tackle infant mortality," he said.

Azad said this system has already been tried. "I myself checked it by calling in some telephone numbers but found that in only six cases out of 10 genuine numbers have been given."

He said a BPO type system is being set up in the ministry to verify the authenticity and accuracy of data provided by state governments and follow up on the needed interventions.

On polio, he said the number of cases has come down to 42 last year from 741 in 2009 after introducing bivalent vaccine. This year so far, only one case has come up.


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