States Maternity Benefit Schemes, PMMVY Reaches Only 90,000 Women
Tamil Nadu has a pioneering cash-based maternity benefit schemes titled Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy Maternity scheme which provides Rs 18,000 to every pregnant and lactating mother.
Telangana has a maternity benefit schemes, which provides a cash transfer of Rs 12,000, and even a poorer state like Odisha is providing Rs 5,000 to pregnant women.
Other states had just begun to accept the principle of making financial allocations in terms of cash-based maternity benefit schemes under the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY), which started as a pilot project in 2011 with a budget of Rs 230 crore in 53 districts by the then government.
Just when there were plans to extend the IGMSY across the country, Prime Minister announced the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) on December 31, 2016, which narrowed down the financial assistance of Rs 5,000 to the first birth only.
With an overall allocation of Rs 2,700 crore, the separate financial allocations for each state under the PMMVY have been made some weeks ago. The central government has made the financial allocations to the different states.
On paper, these allocations are hardly substantive. Madhya Pradesh has received over Rs 74 crore, Rajasthan has got Rs 70 crore, Gujarat Rs 62 crore, West Bengal Rs 93 crore, Bihar Rs 107 crore, Uttar Pradesh Rs 205 crore, Tamil Nadu has been given Rs 74 crore and Maharashtra Rs 115 crore.
Since the states have yet to come up with their matching grants, the scheme continues to be crippled. The result is that ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers in the anganwadi centres are not willing to release the forms needed to be filled out by pregnant women in order to access this money.
The dismal state of affairs can be gauged from the fact that despite the scheme being 14 months old, the Ministry of Women and Child has stated in January 2018 that around 90,000 women were able to avail of the PMMVY during 2017. This, in a country where 2.6 crore live births take place every year.
Restricting assistance to the first childbirth has created its own logjams. In Uttar Pradesh, where women have an average of three children, giving maternity benefits only for the delivery and care of the first child deprives most pregnant women of their legal entitlements, say health workers. The other point of significance which has been overlooked by the PMMVY is that in Uttar Pradesh, 258 women die during childbirth for every one lakh live births.
Providing them with cash incentives for medical care and nutritional support at this crucial time will go a long way in saving the lives of these women.
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