Odisha’s maternal health scheme doing better: Survey
The Jaccha-Baccha Survey (JABS), conducted by student volunteers in June 2019, took place in six states—Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. The findings of the survey were released in a report on Mo...
The Jaccha-Baccha Survey (JABS), conducted by student volunteers in June 2019, took place in six states—Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh. The findings of the survey were released in a report on Monday.
In each state, the survey teams visited 10 to 12 randomly-selected ‘anganwadis’ and interviewed as many as possible of the 342 pregnant and 364 nursing women covered by the anganwadi scheme. The exercise revealed that Odisha, like Tamil Nadu—which has a separate state-run maternal benefits scheme—performed better on social indicators pertaining to health of women and children, as opposed to those that are fully dependant on the central government.
The report noted that the Odisha government’s scheme ‘Mamata’ covered two children, not one, unlike the Centre's ‘Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)’, and that the state performed much better in every respect of coverage—awareness levels, application rates, and actual benefits.
"Some states, notably Odisha, are now giving eggs as “take-home ration” (THR) to pregnant and nursing women. This is a good practice that should be replicated in all states," said the report.
The survey also noted that the reach of integrated child development services (ICDS) was relatively better in Odisha, with near-universal coverage of basic services (health checkup, tetanus injections, iron and folic acid tablets, food supplements, etc.) among pregnant and nursing women registered at the anganwadi.
Khera said states such as Odisha, Tamil Nadu had the advantage of state-run maternity schemes, and governments that have been committed to social development. She also flagged the use of the Centre's funds for buying smartphones for anganwadi workers. "Now, there seems to be a lot of focus on record-keeping, which really doesn't mean much. It is just a surveillance. States such as Gujarat which have been investing in smartphones for anganwadi workers have the worst results on this count."
The survey noted that six years after the National Food Security Act became law, several states are lagging in payment of maternal benefits to pregnant women.
The report said, "In Chhattisgarh and Odisha, we also found many signs of positive change, brightly painted anganwadis, breakfast for the kids, a pre-school education syllabus, collaboration between anganwadi and health workers, and eggs as THRs (in Odisha). It is in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and – especially – UP that the situation was absolutely dismal. Women and children disliked the “panjiri” (ready-to-eat mixture) being distributed in the anganwadis, if they ate it at all. No food was cooked at the anganwadi, even for children in the age group of 3-6 years. Pregnant women, left to their own devices, were struggling with the worst possible hardships and pains."
The survey noted "many signs of hope" in Chhattisgarh, as the state had made "sustained efforts to improve anganwadis and primary health care".
The laggard states, so to speak, were Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and especially Uttar Pradesh, the report said, adding that in Madhya Pradesh, the picture was not all bleak – the “model” (aadarsh) anganwadis were relatively good, and that every nursing woman had delivered in a public institution and used a public ambulance.