Tamil Nadu government intends to make it mandatory for all women to register their pregnancies with the state health department.
Women who do not register their pregnancies will not get a chance to register childbirth and hence there will be no way for them to get birth certificates. This is an attempt to ensure that the woman and child are safe during pregnancy and delivery, and after childbirth. According to The Times of India, health secretary J Radhakrishnan said,
"It's an ambitious project that attempts to bring down maternal and infant mortality rates by keeping a tab on every pregnant woman in the state."
There will be a non-emergency number 102, for registering the pregnancies from July. When that is not possible for various reasons, one gets to register in private hospitals too.
This has been done to make it possible for pregnant women to be tracked to know if they are keeping their doctor’s appointments and also to warn them to take necessary precautions against diabetes and hypertension.
Pregnancy Infant Cohort Monitoring and Evaluations (PICME), a special pilot platform has been under operation in three districts of Tamil Nadu for the past one year. This platform helps doctors keep track of the patients even if they move from one place to another. This would ensure that women get the required treatment and facilities in the new areas too.
With only 60 percent of the deliveries happening in the government hospitals, the government has no way to track the remaining 40 percent which happen at private hospitals or at homes. Most women in rural areas do not come forward to register their pregnancy after the second childbirth as it would mean they are not eligible for the welfare schemes offered by the government.
Moreover, with more maternal deaths happening in districts like Coimbatore, it comes as a good step in the right direction. According to The Hindu, the number of maternal deaths reported in the district was 26 in the year 2016-17, higher than the previous year. The overall maternal mortality rate of the state is also high, standing at 79.
And the step would also help in reducing female foeticides and infanticides, but the government should also take the complications into account and address it. Most doctors are still not sensitised about single women being pregnant. It is imperative that the government ensures that the scheme that is intended to benefit women during pregnancy does not end up making them vulnerable.