Way off the mark

As many as 4,500 Nepali women lose their lives from birth related complications every year, a huge majority of them in rural areas. Poor healthcare facilities near home coupled with long travel to the nearest healthcare centres puts the lives of new mothers at considerable risk, perhaps unsurprising in a country where 89 per cent births take place at home without the supervision of trained manpower.

The government has failed to invest in health facilities in rural areas. Additionally, the bulk of trained health workers are concentrated in urban centres. Unless more is done to upgrade healthcare facilities in urban areas and healthcare workers persuaded to work in rural outposts (through perks and benefits if need be) the MDG of 90 per cent attendance at birth by trained personnel and reducing maternity mortality to 200 per 100,000 births by 2015 will be a pipedream. It should be among the basic rights of new mothers that the health of their children and themselves is taken care of and women do not face discrimination. In this regard, there is an urgent need of massive awareness campaign on safe motherhood in rural areas. Better roads will help the cause. By the way, what happened to the proposal of free maternity service for all Nepali women? At the end of the day, not at all a bad idea.