Earlier this month, July 2016, the website of the State Health Department of Rajasthan announced a reward of Rs.200 mobile recharge to anyone who informs about a maternal death in the state. The government made this announcement via a notification on that website.
The government launched such a scheme in hope that this scheme would ensure that all maternal deaths are reported.
Government had previously introduced incentives for local health workers on bringing women to health centres for delivery. With the introduction of incentives, the number of institutional deliveries in the state rose up. The government expects this new scheme to lead to reduction of unreported maternal deaths.
A survey of 2011-13 said that a total of 244 maternal deaths occurred for every lakh live births in the state. On the same, Chhaya Pachauli of NGO Prayas said that the World Health Organisation has noted gross underreporting of maternal deaths in the state. But this scheme of rewarding reporters can bring a change to this.
To answer this, Dr. VK Mathur, the Director of the State Department of Family Welfare, said, “In case we were directly handing out cash, we would have to deal with receipts and make sure payments go to the right people. This proved easier. We have not come across cases where informants did not have a mobile phone. The scheme has been implemented since February 15 this year. We have received 187 reports since the scheme began. In only four cases was online recharge unsuccessful, so we will have to do manual recharge.”
In order to report a maternal death case to the government of Rajasthan, use the toll free number – 104. The government can also be intimated over the e-mitra website.
The following death cases are counted as a case of maternal death:
While these incentives and reward schemes work, the government should still be cautious about using them over a long term. This is because precious resources are channeled into such schemes by the government.
Delhi-based Dr. Sabu George, who keenly follows issues of public health, said, “The best way to ensure that no maternal death goes unreported would be to strengthen civil registration, so no birth or death goes unregistered. That would also ensure that all maternal deaths are reported. In the short term, an incentive scheme like this might work. But ultimately, we will have to build institutional mechanisms that function and reduce dependence on individuals.”