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Welfare And Health Of Pregnant Women

Welfare And Health Of Pregnant Women

UPSC CSE – SYLLABUS: GENERAL STUDIES-2– Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health,
Education, Human Resources.

Welfare And Health Of Pregnant Women

Considering the importance of maternity for a nation, the government has been implementing various programmes for the welfare and health of the pregnant women.

This include,

Maternity Benefits Act:

  •  All women who are employed in any capacity directly or through any agency will be entitled to maternity benefit of 26 weeks.
  •  It is also available to adopting mother and commissioning mother with a variation in leave.
  •  Every employer shall be liable for, the payment of maternity benefit at the rate of the average daily wage for the period of her actual absence.
  •  Provision for Crèche facility – Every establishment with 50 or more employees to provide crèche facilities within a prescribed distance.
  •  They also have the option to work from home.
  • This is applicable to organized or unorganized sector in which 10 or more persons are or were employed.
  • Pradhan mantri matru vandana yojana(PMMVY):
  •  The maternity benefits under PMMVY are available to all Pregnant Women & Lactating Mothers (PW&LM).
  •  The eligible beneficiaries gets Rs. 5,000/- under PMMVY and the remaining cash incentive as per approved norms towards Maternity Benefit under Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) after institutional delivery so that on an average, a woman gets Rs. 6000/-. 

Benefits:

  •  These programmes are intended in the right direction i.e, to provide pregnant women with maternity benefits for a health delivery.
  •  These programmes will also aid in ensuring healthy development of the children.
  •  The Maternity Act imposes penalty for contravention of the Act by the employer. This would help in efficient implementation.
  •  The cash incentives provided would lead to improved health seeking behaviour amongst the Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers.

Concerns:

  •  Burden on the employer(especially MSME’s and small startups) to give paid leaves. This may deter them from employing women with pregnancy or its likelihood.
  •  This Act mainly applies to establishments with 10 or more employees. As most of the establishments in India have small number of workers (agri labourers), they are not entitled to these benefits.
  •  Benefits are restricted to the first living child, and to ₹5,000 per woman in PMMVY.
  •  A budget provision of ₹2,700 crore was made for it in the 2017-18 budget — a fraction of the ₹15,000 crore required for full-fledged implementation of maternity benefits as per NFSA norms. 
  •  Considering, the Ministry of Women and Child Development statistics on PMMVY beneficiaries it is found that in 2018-19 only around 22% of all pregnant women received any PMMVY money, and around 14% received the full benefits. 
  •  Further the application process and other technicalities involved in availing the benefits are difficult.

Way forward:

  •  It is crucial for the government to also step in to fund the employers and implement maternity schemes. The government is considering this, which is welcome.
  •  Under the Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy Maternity Benefit Scheme, pregnant women in Tamil Nadu receive financial assistance of ₹18,000 per child for the first two births, including a nutrition kit.
  •  Odisha’s Mamata scheme also covers two births, with entitlements — ₹5,000 per child. Among 88% of those eligible for Mamata benefits had applied, 75% had received at least one of the two instalments.
  •  Such schemes could be replicated nationwide.
  • Maternity affects both the mother and the child and is of great consequence on a country’s population. Hence, considerable efforts are needed to ensure that proper maternity benefits are available to the women.

POSSIBLE UPSC MAINS EXAMINATION

What are the measures taken for the welfare and health of pregnant women in the nation? Are they efficacious? Suggest a way forward.