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Rural women shun prenatal tests

Chhamma Luwar (45) of Gotri-8 in Bajura district receives medical treatment after giving birth to a child at Primary Health Centre in Kolti of the district. Photo: Prakash Singh

Bajura, April 18, 2016: Ujjala Budha of Sappata-4, Pudeni, is nine months pregnant, but the 28-year-old has not even once visited a health facility for check-up in Bajura.

“Why do I have to do such tests? I’ve already borne three kids without any tests whatsoever and so have many other women in our village,” said the mother of three when asked why she wouldn’t go for regular check-ups.

Similarly, Manu BK of Gotri is eight months pregnant, but hasn’t undergone any kind of pregnancy related tests as of yet. She said she hadn’t gone for check-up even during her previous pregnancy.

Ujjala and Manu are just a few cases in point while many women in the remote villages of Bajura don’t feel necessary to go for regular tests during their pregnancy. Lanka Bahadur Bhandari, a Gotri local, attributed the ignorance to the lack of awareness among rural folks.

He further identified the difficult topography and long distance to the health facilities as other factors discouraging women from visiting heath facilities for regular check-ups.

Keeping in view such ignorance, especially among women from the rural areas, the government had earlier announced incentive for women who visit the heath facilities during pregnancy for regular check-ups.

As per the incentive, each woman is entitled to Rs 400 for visiting health facilities for at least four times during their pregnancy and additional Rs 1,900 for delivering their babies in a government health facility.

“Apart from the cash inducement, the new mother and her neonatal are provided with new clothes. However, despite all these rewards, hardly anyone comes to us for service,” lamented Gotri Health Post in-charge Jitendra Yadav.

For Yadav, difficult terrain is the major factor that dissuades women from visiting the health facilities.

Assistant health worker at Bichhyan Health Post, Laxmi Bhandari, echoed Yadav and said, “The district has a total of 22 health centres where parturition services are available, but very few women avail themselves of the services in the rural areas,” said Bhandari.

As per a data with the district health office, a total of 36.26 per cent women avail themselves of regular health check-ups during pregnancy in the district.

Local Civil Society member Sher Bahadur Shahi rued the poor scenario despite a huge investment by the government in the name of awareness campaigns and the likes.