HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Family Health Division (FHD) under the Ministry of Health and Population is introducing a programme to distribute free blood to pregnant women during labour, in 26 districts this year.
The division is introducing the programme to reduce financial burden on families during delivery and to reduce maternal mortality rate.
Dr Shilu Aryal, focal person for the safe motherhood programme at the division, said the government is introducing the programme in districts with low Human Development Index.
Some of the districts where the programme will be implemented are: Dailekh, Nuwakot , Solukhumbu, Kalikot, Jumla, Dolpa, Rolpa and Rukum.
“The programme will be implemented at the district hospitals where the cesarean deliveries are performed,” said Aryal. The government has allocated Rs 20 lakh for the programme this year.
Although the government provides free delivery services, including postnatal and antenatal care, the patients have to pay for blood during delivery, said Aryal.
The government is also providing cash incentives to mothers availing postnatal and antenatal care services in health institutions. The ministry provides Rs 400 to pregnant women who have availed all antenatal care services and Rs 500, Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500 in postnatal care incentive in the Tarai, hill and mountain districts respectively under the Aama programme.
According to the Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS)-2011, 58 per cent women sought consultations from medical professionals during pregnancy. Although more women are opting for antenatal care than in the past, only 36 per cent babies were delivered by a doctor, nurse or midwife.
Aryal added that the demand for blood during delivery is very high and even higher among anemic patients.
Although not all women in labour require blood, the 2008-09 Maternal Mortality Survey showed that 24 per cent of maternal deaths were due to postpartum hemorrhage.
At present, the division is working with Central Blood Transfusion Service to ease access to blood supply. The blood bank charges Rs 525 per unit of blood, which is tested for HIV, Hepatitis B and C and syphilis. According to NDHS 2006, the maternal mortality rate is 281 per 100,000 live births in Nepal. As per the Millennium Development Goals, Nepal needs to bring the figure down to 134 by 2015.