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‘Celebrity’ village in mourning: Govt apathy proves fatal for infants, expectant mothers
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Neem Khera (Mewat), January 19
Contrary to its “celebrity” status due to the all-women panchayat at the helm of affairs, it’s a village in constant mourning now. Thirteen infants, mostly girls, have died in the last six months and seven stillborn have been reported. A few mothers have also lost their lives before they reached the delivery table.

It is because grant from the health budget has failed to reach this back-of-beyond village located on the Haryana- Rajasthan border. The statistics are even more startling since Mewat is showing a gradually improving girl-boy ratio. Also, it’s a “favoured” district, given its backward status, where the Haryana government is running nine special mobile delivery vans and 12 delivery huts.

However, despite pumping of funds and availability of services, nothing has reached here and there is complete ignorance about the available schemes.

The nearest sub-centre is located in the Punhana block, about 12 km from the village. It is a bone-rattling journey taking nearly an hour, which most women in labour usually fail to make and die or deliver enroute in the most unhygienic conditions.

Sarpanch of this only all-women panchayat Asubi Khan rues: “Our women are treated worse than animals for want of medical care. Not a day goes without some bad news finding its way into our village. We have no clue where to go for help especially since the government machinery in the health sector has eluded us. There is not even a private practitioner, who can be approached in times of emergency.”

Mehmooda, who lost her daughter-in-law Samina recently, can not curse the health authorities enough for “ignoring” the village. “Should we have to die because no doctor has ever bothered to visit our village except for special drives, especially polio? We cannot be punished in this way for living in the farthest corner of the state,” she emphasises.

Recently married Arshad and Arshida lost their unborn daughter to the non-existent road from the village to Punhana. The track, full of mud and crater-sized potholes, proved to be fatal for the parents expecting their first child. “I was in labour when we started out from the house. The journey began but ‘Celebrity’ village in mourning

ended with a stillborn in my arms at the hospital. It was the most tragic day of our lives and all because the government apathy,” maintains Arshida.

The village has many more stories where infants, born by the roadside, had died. Asgar and Manjida’s three-month-old son defied all odds to live on despite the harrowing time he had coming into the world. So did Gamir and Salma’s child. Such children have been few and far between especially and the village dotes on them. Each time a woman goes into labour, the villagers have their fingers crossed, hoping earth will not have to be dug up for a new cemetery.



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