Chittorgarh: Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh had drawn attention to crumbling health infrastructure in the states, saying even Kenya has a lower infant mortality rate than India. CNN-IBN travelled to Rajasthan's Chittorgarh to find out the situation there.
Prem and Madan Dangi were filled with joy upon the birth of their child, but now all they are left with is a feeling of emptiness. They lost their baby hours after the birth. That's not all as they emptied their savings of Rs 40,000, rushing to three hospitals as they tried to save the little one.
But Prem's case is not the only one. In just one block of the Chittorgarh district in Rajasthan, there have been 16 cases of infant mortality in the past three months. That takes the infant mortality index there to 180 per 1,000, which is much higher than the state average of 59.
Over a year after 24 maternal deaths in Jodhpur's government hospitals within a span of two months, Rajasthan's health department has yet to learn its lessons. At a Community Health Centre in Chittor's Gangrar, there's just one doctor against seven sanctioned posts. There's no paediatrician, no gynaecologist and facilities like blood transfusion are a far cry.
Health experts believe one of the key causes of the maternal deaths in Jodhpur is the poor condition of Primary Health Centres. Dr Narendra Gupta, healthcare activist, said, "This leads to infant and maternal deaths because even normal deliveries that can and should happen at PHCs and CHCs also land at the tertiary districts hospitals which get overburdened."
Empty chairs, vacant chambers, absenteeism and staff crunch is virtually the story of every other PHC there. At Ghatiawali, shockingly, for the past three months there hasn't been an appointment of an allopathic doctor. While officials are attributing the fall in the infant mortality rate in Rajasthan to the government's Janani Suraksha Yojana, on the ground the picture is very different as the Dangi family learnt first-hand.