Waiting Huts for pregnant women, pioneered by Bengal, now a national model
Waiting Huts – resident medical facilities, including adequate diets, available free of cost to pregnant women living in far-flung rural areas, to enable institutional deliveries – a concept being run successfully in Bengal – has been proposed to be made a national model by the Committee on the Empowerment of Women, a parliamentary committee for women’s issues, in a report, titled ‘Women’s Healthcare: Policy Options’, tabled in Parliament on January 3.
The Committee has proposed the creation of Pre-Delivery Hubs, on the lines of Waiting Huts.
The concept was developed by the Trinamool Congress-led Bengal Government, with due encouragement from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, to bring relief to women for whom it is too long a distance to cover to reach health centres to enable institutional delivery of babies, and whose families are often too poor to pay for hiring vehicles to bring expectant mothers. In view of the latter issue, the Huts are equipped to keep pregnant women for observation and total care for seven to 10 days prior to the expected dates of delivery.
Each Waiting Hut is equipped with the necessary infrastructure and personnel (doctors and nurses), who are available round-the-clock, for the safe delivery of babies.They have been in existence since early 2016.
Likewise, the Committee report has proposed Pre-Delivery Hubs near hospitals, where pregnant women can stay for around a week before their due dates, to help reduce travel time and maternal deaths during childbirth.
It adds that the concept has been successfully implemented by the Bengal Government in remote areas in the Sundarbans – like Sandeshkhali and Gosaba – and in other regions.
In Bengal, Waiting Huts have enabled institutional delivery for a much larger population and have helped reduce maternal mortality in the state to 27 per cent, from 41 per cent, facts acknowledged and appreciated by the Union Health Ministry.