English | Dzongkha Sunday, January 24, 2021

Accelerating Mother and Child Health program to begin from next year

Sonam Pem, Thimphu
Aug 31, 2019

The cabinet approved the Accelerating Mother and Child Health Program as a national policy on August 27. Health Minister Dechen Wangmo shared this during the launch of the Strategic Plan for Cervical Cancer program recently.

The program is an investment for a healthy and economically productive future generation. It will be rolled out next year.

 The mother and child health program is a new program the health ministry will implement as a routine activity each year. This program will facilitate mothers who are not entitled to six months paid maternity leave to benefit from the government’s health services. They would be paid the national minimum wage of Nu 125 a day.

The target beneficiaries will be identified by health workers during the registration of the pregnancies in the hospitals.

“If we miss the boat of investing in the future generation which are children growing up, mothers who are going to get pregnant, a foetus that is in a mother’s womb, then we miss the boat of re-developing human capital. That’s why accelerating mother and child health program basically will require you to take care of a mother from the day of conception, from the first booking till the child is two years old,” the Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said.

Lyonpo added that the antenatal care visit is still poor with half the pregnant women not coming to register their pregnancies until after the first trimester resulting in missing out some critical services. And health ministry’s administrative data indicates a high proportion of mothers not completing the crucial post-natal care services.

“Immunization is around 94-95 per cent in the last ten years. PNC visit is equally poor. Micronutrient deficiency is very high among adolescents and among young women resulting in micronutrient deficiency at source, at the time of conception, which is not good. Micronutrient deficiency among toddlers is not good. Disability, most of our disabilities are identified later when the kid is five years or six years old. By then a lot of interventions are missed.”

Through accelerating mother and child health program, the health ministry expects to improve the institutional delivery, immunization coverage and breastfeeding significantly. The program is going to cost the government Nu 241 M annually.

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