Post Mortem

Maternal and child health care crisis in the midst of COVID pandemic

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 9/3/2020 12:56:23 PM IST

 The Covid-19 pandemic has hit everyone hard. But the worst-hit are those who often do not have the means to tell their hardship and has left some people more wounded than the rest. Regular human activities have been bought to a grinding halt, but not the progression of diseases and other medical conditions. Lack of affordable health care is a crisis in itself. The Covid Pandemic has made the crisis even more acute and unbearable for many people living on daily wage. The brunt of the Covid-19 crisis fell upon the poor ailing and expectant mothers. As mothers, our hearts break at the heart wrenching stories and the untold sufferings of those who are less fortunate and have suffered in silence without respite.

With the various Government District Hospitals closed to the public for general patient care, there are many other patients who have been suffering silently with excruciating difficulty especially expectant mothers seeking normal deliveries or caesarean sections, and other patients seeking surgical treatment, cancer care and renal failure patients in need of dialysis. In the dilemma of the non-availability of public health care, many have been forced to seek health care in the private sector beyond their means which is unaffordable to many. The lockdown and the loss of wages and earning have deepened the personal financial crisis further more. Many have incurred huge debts in the pursuit of health care in private sectors.

While all District Hospitals are expected to ensure that all measures are taken to provide health care services even in the times of Covid, Kohima has all the more reason to ensure the provision of general health care services in government hospital, not because the people living in Kohima deserves it more than the others, but because it is the referral health center for all the other districts and patients come to Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK) from far and wide. In terms of infrastructure, manpower, facility and resource, the NHAK is better off compared to the rest. As such it is imperative that the public health care services resume at the earliest, it being the only Government health center in the whole State providing cancer care as well as dialysis and a state-of-the-art ICU. Although the protem Out Patient Services provided by NHAK at the PMTI make-shift OPD is appreciated, the lack of inpatient facility, child delivery and operating facility does not mitigate the distress of the poor. While there were some talks that NHAK will resume the public health care services to the relief of many who depend on government hospitals for their health care, nothing has changed on the ground despite the lapse of several weeks.

The World Health Organisation in 2017 stated that approximately 810 women dieevery day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth and 94 %of all maternal deaths occurred in low and lower middle-income groups, reflecting inequalities in access to quality health services and highlighted the gap between the rich and the poor. It was found that some of the main factors that prevent women from receiving or seeking care during pregnancy and childbirth are poverty, distance to facilities and inadequate and poor quality services amongst others. While the Maternal Mortality rate has been brought down considerably over the years, the denial of services in the wake of covid-19 would turn back the clock by several years behind if the Covid-19 related activities have to continue at the cost of many other patients suffering from other medical conditions, most specifically the maternal and child care. Of all the services denied to the public by government hospitals, it seems most unfair to expectant mothers and the lack of affordable maternal care is most unfortunate for the fact that the two lives are put at risk, or that the whole family is put in financial jeopardy by having to seek the same in private sector which is often beyond the means of many a poor mother.

Will the Government of Nagaland and the Department of Health and family welfare wake up to the plight of these helpless mothers and the many other plethora of grave ailments affecting the poor and the marginalised patients and be sensitive to their health care needs? To endure and nurture a pregnancy is an arduous task beyond the miracle of life. But to have been denied the service of an affordable health care is even worse and can be seen as not only a failure on the part of the government, but also a violation of their human rights. It could often be very well a tragic death sentence by the process of child birth for some who cannot afford the exorbitant maternal care in the private sector. It is incumbent upon the Government to ensure that no lives are lost for want of services in the district hospitals.

Kevinourheno Seyie, President and Shürhivino Nakhro, General Secretary, Angamimiapfü Mechü Krotho

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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