MoWCSC seeks people’s access to regular health services


Kathmandu, June 10

A few days after the Women and Social Committee of the House of Representatives directed the government to ensure people’s access to regular health services during the lockdown period, the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens requested the Ministry of Heath and Population to pioritise the issues of pregnant women and lactating mothers.

An MoWCSC letter to the MoHP earlier this week expressed concern about pregnant women and lactating mothers affected by the prolonged nationwide lockdown imposed by the government to prevent the coronavirus spread.

“The country has witnessed unusual increase in the mortality rate of pregnant women and lactating mothers due to restrictions on mobility, refusal of hospitals to provide regular medical care and focus of all state mechanisms on the prevention and control of coronavirus.

Therefore, we would like to request you to make arrangements for continuity of safe motherhood and reproductive health services without any obstruction,” read the letter posted on the MoWCSC website.

The letter contains a seven-point request to the MoHP.

The MoWCSC said it was very urgent to prioritise medical services for pregnant women and lactating mothers in hospitals and health facilities, distribute iron supplements, conduct medical check-up of pregnant women, immunise infants and children, provide ambulance service to pregnant women and lactating mothers for easy access to health institutions and also specialised service to them in quarantine facilities, distribute contraceptives and raise awareness about availability of regular services in hospitals, among others.

According to statistics, at least 56 new mothers died in the past two months, whereas around 60,000 women were deprived of much-needed check-up and other services due to the lockdown.

Last week, the parliamentary panel had instructed the MoWCSC and MoHP to save the lives of pregnant women, lactating mothers, persons injured in accidents, children and senior citizens, who were most affected by the lockdown.

The number of pregnant women and other vulnerable persons who have lost their lives is increasing due to lack of access to regular medical care during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

“The lockdown is prerequisite for controlling and preventing the spread of COV- ID-19, but it cannot be an excuse to deprive any citizen of regular health services,” read a press release issued by the parliamentary panel. It warned that pregnant women, lactating mothers and infants were dying due to the lack of prompt and adequate medical care.

Maternal mortality rate has significantly increased after the lockdown was clamped.

Patients suffering from other diseases have also died due to lack of treatment. It is the duty of the state to save the lives of its citizens even during adverse situation, said the parliamentary panel.

Many people have been deprived of reproductive and non-COVID healthcare services.

Pregnant women in both rural and urban areas are facing the brunt of the lockdown.

Although the constitution has recognised reproductive health as a fundamental and essential service, women seeking safe motherhood are finding it hard to access such service during the lockdown.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 11, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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