The Indian government and health system have been derided for not being able to reduce the number of maternal deaths, despite the growth in economy.
Interestingly, in a short study conducted at St. John’s Medical College on community health, not a single woman knew about the Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram. This scheme was launched by the government in 2011 with the intention of benefitting 12 million pregnant women. The scheme issues entitlements for pregnant women.
Despite the misconceptions, India has got very fine laws, rules, and schemes for the protection and welfare of pregnant women.
Here are 7 rights that everyone should know about:
1. Antenatal checkup is totally free
Women don’t need to pay anything to avail pregnancy services. Even Cesarean section delivery is free, as is the provision of blood if needed.
2. They are entitled to cash payments
Women (from BPL families and SC/STs) are in fact entitled to cash payment, after they have delivered babies in government health facilities and some private hospitals.
3. Free transport service available
What’s even better is that free transport service is available to the hospital and back, along with meals for the duration of the hospital stay.
4. Benefits extended till child turns 1
The icing on the cake is that there are provisions to extend all the benefits till your newborn is one year old. Sick infants are entitled to receive free treatment, free medicines, free diagnostics and transport from home to health facilities, between facilities in case of referral, as well as a free drop back home.
5. Entitled to receive cash payment on regular checkup
In some districts, women are entitled to receive Rs. 6,000 in cash payment on regular antenatal checkup, institutional delivery, and vaccination of kids. The good news is that the government is soon planning to roll out the scheme across the country.
6. The Government has agreed to extend maternity leave
Working women in the private sector are entitled to 12 weeks of fully paid leave. What’s even better is that the Government has agreed to extend the leave to 26 weeks. In this regard, the Government fully justifies its tag of an ‘ideal employer’ by providing 6 months of maternity leave to women employees.
7. Can’t get fired for being pregnant
Being fired from a job on account of pregnancy is illegal under the Maternity Benefit Act. To plug any loophole and ensure protection to women employees, the Government could soon implement a provision prohibiting the sacking of any woman during pregnancy, on any pretext.