Aiming zero preventable maternal and newborn deaths in India, the central government on Thursday launched the Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan (SUMAN) scheme, under which pregnant women, mothers up to 6 months after delivery, and all sick newborns will be able to avail free healthcare benefits.
“The scheme will largely help in bringing down maternal and infant mortality rates in the country. Under the scheme, the beneficiaries visiting public health facilities are entitled to several free services. These include at least four ante natal check-ups that also includes one checkup during the 1st trimester, at least one checkup under Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan, Iron Folic Acid supplementation, Tetanus diptheria injection and other components of comprehensive ANC package and six home-based newborn care visits," said Union health minister Harsh Vardhan while launching the scheme.
Under the scheme there will be zero expense access to identification and management of complications during and after the pregnancy. The government will also provide free transport from home to health institutions.
"There will be assured referral services with scope of reaching health facility within one hour of any critical case emergency and Drop back from institution to home after due discharge (minimum 48 hrs). Under the scheme, the pregnant women will have a zero expense delivery and C-section facility in case of complications at public health facilities," an official statement said.
The government has said it will ensure respectful care with privacy and dignity, with early initiation and support for breastfeeding, zero dose vaccination and free and zero expense services for sick newborns and neonates.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines quality of care for mothers and newborns as “the extent to which health care services provided to individuals and patient populations improve desired health outcomes. In order to achieve this, health care must be safe, effective, timely, efficiently integrated, equitable and people-centered."
According to government, India’s maternal mortality rate has declined from 254 per 1,00,000 live births in 2004-06 to 130 in 2014-16. Between 2001 and 2016, the infant mortality rate came down from 66 per 1,000 live births to 34.