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Free Maternity Care
Cost: Your Baby

May 18, 2012 permalink

An Indian hospital advertising free maternity care for expectant mothers forced a mother to sell her baby to pay for the medical bill.



Couple sell newborn to pay hospital bill

Sarmila Basumatary
The couple at the hospital.
Telegraph picture

Kokrajhar, May 12: The parents of a newborn were forced to sell their baby for Rs 7,000 to clear the dues of a government hospital the mother was admitted to.

The incident took place despite the Dispur’s claims of providing free medical facilities to pregnant women who go for delivery in a government hospital.

Sarmila Basumatary was admitted to Rupnath Brahma civil hospital here last Saturday and delivered a boy through caesarean section on Sunday evening. The baby was given away straight from the newborn care unit where it was kept for a day.

“With the mother in poor health, we thought it best to give away the baby for adoption. The poor have no option but to surrender to fate,” the boy’s father, Suniram, said. “The lady gave Rs 7,000 which we are using to pay for the medical expenditure,” he added.

“I believe he will be better off with the family which has taken him,” the boy’s mother said from the hospital bed. The couple already have three sons and a daughter.

The irony is stark: On the walls of the maternity ward hang posters of the much-touted state government scheme, Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram, highlighting the facilities a pregnant women is entitled to if she delivers a baby in a government hospital.

Under this mother-child welfare scheme, launched under National Rural Health Mission, Assam, a pregnant women admitted to a government health institution is entitled to free and cashless delivery, including caesarean section, medicines and consumer durables, surgical items, diagnostics tests such as blood, urine and ultrasonography, free nutritional diet (upto 30 days for normal delivery and seven days for caesarean section) and supplements, free conveyance from home to a health institution and free drop back home after delivery under Adharani scheme, among others. A senior official of NRHM, Kokrajhar, said the mission ensures provision of drugs and consumables required for normal delivery in a kit form (one kit for each delivery).

All newborns are also entitled to free treatment facilities at public health institutions till 30 days after birth.

The incident at Rupnath Brahma civil hospital has thrown up several allegations of anomalies, like nexus between doctors and pharmacists. Several patients, including pregnant women and their families, have complained of fiscal irregularities at the hospital. There are allegations that the hospital pharmacist who delivers medicines to patients on credit dictates their release. The doctors hold back patients’ release until the pharmacist writes a full payment receipt, said Md Nur Amin Haque, the relative of a patient. He had a receipt to buttress his claim.

Another patient, Janali Mushahary, who delivered a baby 10 days ago, said she was not released yesterday as scheduled because her family had not been able to make full payment at the pharmacy. “We had to buy everything, including antibiotics, saline, medicines and hand gloves. We have already spent over Rs 10,000 and are still to pay the pharmacist about Rs 5,000,” she said.

The doctors at the hospital alleged that medicines, including antibiotics, and saline were in short supply.

Denying any shortage of supply, the superintendent of Rupnath Brahma civil hospital, Dr A.K. Brahma, said there was “sufficient stock of antibiotics and required medicines” at the hospital, while admitting that supply of saline and hand gloves had not been up to the mark.

An official at the NRHM here also said there was regular supply of necessary medicines. “There is regular supply of items from us and so far we haven’t received any letter or complaint from the hospital citing deficiency of medicines and other required kits. If any doctor is saying that there is no medicine, it is just an excuse,” he said.

Source: Telegraph (India)