Free ambulance service can reduce maternal deaths

Study by non-profit in two blocks in Bihar's Patna district says delay in decision-making and reaching healthcare centres caused maximum maternal deaths

By Alok Gupta
Published: Wednesday 02 April 2014

A study of maternal deaths in two blocks of Patna district in Bihar says access to free ambulance service would help to reduce such deaths. A majority of dalit and muslim women die during transit because of absence of free ambulance service, says the study by the Centre for Health And Resource Management (CHARM), a non-profit working with the marginalised and the poor.

In its study of 22 pregnancy deaths in 2012-13, CHARM says that delay in decision-making, reaching health centre and health care facility has caused maximum number of deaths. The study report was released in Patna on Tuesday.

Mona Jha, block coordinator of CHARM, said that nearly 25 per cent of deaths could have been prevented if victims had access to free ambulance service. “We studied the cause of 22 deaths and found lack of transportation led to eight deaths,” she said.

Fifteen of the 22 victims who died during labour pain were taken to  hospitals on autorickshaws, two on foot and one victim each used government and private ambulance service respectively.
Ten deaths were reported from private hospitals; five deaths occurred during transit, four at home and only three deaths were reported from government hospitals.
The large number of deaths reported from private hospitals were attributed to the high number of referral cases from government hospitals. The study says that as many as 12 cases were referred to private hospitals because of lack of staff and facility in government hospitals; two cases were referred  because of unavailability of blood and in two cases no explanation was provided.
Another shocking fact revealed in the study pertains to early marriage of girls. Thirteen victims were married off before age 18; nine were married between the age of 19 and 26 years.

Jha said if this situation prevails in Bihar's capital region, then the situation is backward districts would be unthinkable. “There is no comprehensive study of maternal death causes in the state,” she said.

The study has been submitted to the state government for action.

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