Shillong, Nov 18: The state Assembly’s Committee on Women Empowerment has directed the health department to come up with an action plan to address the high infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR) in the state especially in the Garo Hills region.
According to the committee, West Garo Hills District alone has recorded over 140 maternal deaths during the past six months.
The committee headed by opposition Congress leader and MLA of East Shillong, Ampareen Lyngdoh has also decided to recommend the state government on the need to have a policy in place to discourage teenage pregnancy, which is on the rise in the state.
The chief secretary, PS Thangkhiew was also asked to evaluate as to whether teenage pregnancy is also linked to POCSO related cases in the state.
It may be mentioned that the committee has recently conducted a tour to the two districts of the region – West Garo Hills and East Garo Hills, to ensure women’s rights are protected.
After chairing a meeting with officials of the health department on Monday, Lyngdoh told reporters that the committee was deeply concerned on knowing that the IMR and MMR in the two districts is very high.
Lyngdoh informed that the health officials have pointed out the high presence of anemia and very low institutional deliveries as some of the main reasons for high MMR and teenage pregnancy for the high IMR. “We need to act quickly to change these numbers,” she said.
Lyngdoh said that most of the women could not avail the maternity benefit program under the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) just because local banks and financial institutions failed to facilitate opening of bank accounts for them.
Another reason is because most of the pregnant women were under age and are not qualified to avail the benefits of the scheme, she added.
The chairperson further said that the committee is also waiting for the report from the chief secretary before suggesting the state government to come up with a policy to discourage teenage pregnancy.
“We have also asked the district health services of West Garo Hills and East Garo Hills to come up with consolidated plan to address the high prevalence of anemia among pregnant women,” she said.
On the other hand, Lyngdoh said, the concern expressed by women NGOs on the problem of manpower shortage faced by the women police stations was also discussed during the meeting, which was also attended by the Director General of Police (DGP), R Chandranathan.
She said that the DGP has assured the committee that the matter will be addressed by the department.
With regards to sexual harassment at their place of work, Lyngdoh said, the committee was assured that all out effort will be put in both government and non-government institutions.