maternal deaths in nine months of 2010. Not only were the pregnant
women routinely turned away from community health centres of their
villages, they were even beaten and abused by nurses and health staff
of the district hospital, a report released here Tuesday said.
Situated over 300 km from state capital Bhopal, Barwani hit the
headlines recently for maternal deaths and the poor state of its
Activists of local NGO Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS) were
thrashed by the police when they demonstrated outside the collectorate
office to highlight the issue.
After a lot of protests, a team comprising Dr. Shubha Sri, a local
obstetrician and gynaecologist, and health activists Sarojini N. and
Renu Khanna visited the district Jan 21-22 and met the families of the
victims in eight villages.
They held a press conference here Tuesday, and spoke about the dire
situation of maternal healthcare in Barwani.
They gave the example of Balta Bai, 20, a resident of Ubadgad village
of the district. On June 6 last year, she experienced sudden labour
pains and was taken to the community health centre (CHC) of Pati block
in a cloth sling by her family.
However, no doctor was present as it was a Sunday. A nurse did her
check-up and sent her to the district hospital in an ambulance.
At the hospital, a nurse hit her for screaming in pain, and told her
to go to either Indore or Ashagram (a private hospital in Barwani).
The nurse even told Balta's father-in-law: 'Take her to Ashagram,
otherwise we will lodge a complaint against you.'
When Balta was finally taken to Ashagram, doctors declared that her
child was dead and needed to be taken out immediately. The hospital
charged Rs.10,000 for the operation and kept her hospitalised for
The night she was discharged, she once again complained of pain on
reaching home. Her family took her to the district hospital, where a
nurse called her 'a whore', and threw hot water on her stomach.
'At the time of the interview in January, Balta was six months
pregnant and was not receiving antenatal care,' Shubha said.
The team also narrated the case of Durga Bai, a 32-year-old resident
of Semli village of the district. She was taken to Pati block's CHC
Dec 26 last year when she was expecting, but was referred to the
There, the nurses tried to force the baby out by pushing. Durga was
anaemic, but the nurses did not make any provision for blood and left
it to her family to arrange for a it. Durga's mother then pawned off
her silver necklace for Rs.1,000 to pay the donor.
However, Durga died during delivery.
'We find that the outreach services and antenatal care coverage are
very poor. Anaemia is widely prevalent. We find some women with
haemoglobin at dangerously low levels of 2 gms/dl. Anaemia contributed
directly to seven of the 26 maternal deaths,' Shubha said.
'The health care facilities are ill equipped to provide emergency
obstetric care. The multiple referrals contribute to significant
delays... leading to the deaths,' said Sarojini.
'We have met Health Secretary S.R. Mohanty and Director Health Dr.
Manohar Agnani of the (state) government with our findings and they
assured us of immediate action,' Khanna said.
Madhya Pradesh's health indicators are generally poor compared to the
rest of the country. Its maternal mortality rate (number of deaths
during childbirth) is 335 per 100,000 live births, compared to the
overall India figure of 254.
Barwani is among the poorest and most backward districts of the state.
About 67 percent of the total population of 10,81,039 belong to the
Most of the maternal deaths happened in the tribal community, the report said.