NArinder Kumar is set to become a father in early January. His wife, Kiwita, became pregnant in February, just two months after their marriage, and has been worried about taking him to hospital since the time came.
It stands three kilometers long on a narrow, rugged mountain road, passing through the forests of oak and rhododendron from the village of Gailo Kot to the main road, where they can be taken by car or ambulance to the natal hospital.
But these days Kumar is more relaxed. The government has decided to provide reward, For all pregnant women in remote villages of the state or in this part of Uttarakhand, or palanquin. The easy stretcher, which will need to be carried by village volunteers, will make a huge difference to women who have not been able to make it to the hospital before – reprimanded as a result of travel or even tired of walking. Instead of opting for delivery in the villages on the floor of needle grass and old sacks, in the villages a cow colony or shelter, with the help of the village midwife.
“I know of two women in my village who died of severe bleeding before reaching the hospital. It’s not just a distance. It’s a very rough area and very tiring. I was worried if What if Quetta’s labor starts at night or during heavy rains, “says Kumar.
Pelkin Basically a wire cot that carries four people – that’s nothing new. They are a feature of life in this mountainous region where, due to the lack of roads, men learn to carry large quantities of weight – iron girders, refrigerators, air conditioners, beds – on long and winding paths.
The only way anyone can walk is to get to the same hospital, but there are very few of them, and finding them when needed can be a last-minute detour. Nearby lies another village, miles away, where it was last used.
“Sometimes, you think there is a palanquin in someone’s house in the village and then, during an emergency, he realizes that it was used to take the bride to her husband’s village and sometimes Krishna Chandra, a manager who lives near Kumar, said that if a palanquin was not found on time, we would have to tie the man to a chair with a bamboo pole and place him on the men’s shoulders.
Sonica (who uses only one name), director of the National Health Mission in Uttarakhand, says the new palanquin policy is aimed at maximizing hospital deliveries.
“What is different now is that the policy will become more regular and smooth. Plenty of palanquins will be available and will be in the right place at the right time as they will match the information about the expected date of delivery of women in a village.
“Besides, people will now know that palanquin service is something they are entitled to, which was not the case before.”
According to the state government, Uttarakhand has improved its maternal mortality rate, which is recording 89 deaths per 100,000 Delivery between 2015 and 2017, compared to the national average of 122.
The government believes schemes to encourage women to give birth in hospitals, free iron pills and an ambulance service have helped. But not all parts of the state are improving at the same pace. A 2016 study in Okhlakanda (16 miles from Kumar’s village) found that only 37% of all deliveries took place in a hospital.
Under the new policy, the palanquin can be used for infant check-ups as well as deliveries, and the cost will be borne by the government.
The word “palanquin” can be derived from the elegant covenants of maharajas and maharanis, which form a wide structure placed on a precious palak adorned with gold and silver. The palanquins of Uttarakhand will prove to be a bit more primitive and will provide a great ride. But the government has promised to protect women against the elements and bring clean sheets.
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