Wary of Covid testing, pregnant women in villages avoid hospitals

Wary of Covid testing, pregnant women in villages avoid hospitals

Photo for representational purpose only

Tribune News Service

Manav Mander

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 8

To avoid getting tested for Covid, pregnant women from rural areas are running away from hospitals.

Their non-cooperative attitude sometimes forces doctors to call the police to help them in conducting the test.

The dipping number of deliveries being done in government hospitals every month is also a testimony to the fact that pregnant women from rural areas are drifting away from institutional deliveries. Sources revealed that a few healthcare workers were conducting deliveries at home.

According to the health department data, in Ludhiana district, 1,432 deliveries were done in the government sector in January, which reduced to 1,270 in February, 1,265 in March and further dipped to 1,037 in April.

The scene in the private sector is no different. Dr Saroj Aggarwal, president of Ludhiana branch of Indian Medical Association, said rural women were frightened at the mere mention of Covid test and the number of patients from villages had dipped drastically.

“Once a woman (from rural belt) in labour pain came to the hospital and we told the family that Covid test will be done before admitting her. But they started arguing and when the staff did not budge, they took the woman back home. They said the woman will deliver the child at home but won’t get the Covid test done. This will also lead to rise in infant mortality rate,” she said.

Charitable hospitals in the city, which earlier used to have huge footfall from the rural belt, especially pregnant women, had gone down considerably, Dr Aggarwal said.

ASHA workers are a bridge between the rural population and the healthcare system. Kirandeep Kaur, who works in Punjola sub-centre of Fatehgarh Sahib, said these days pregnant women were not getting admitted to government hospitals.

“Once I took a pregnant woman from Kotla Jattan village to a hospital where she tested positive for Covid. She was referred to Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, where she was quarantined. After this incident, villagers panicked and none of the women is now coming forward for institutional deliveries at government facilities,” she said.

Jeet Kaur, another ASHA worker from Pakhowal block, said if earlier she used to help 45 rural women in their pre-natal stage, the number had now dipped to just 30. “Many migrant women are going back to their native places and coming back after delivery,” she said.

A doctor in charge of the Urban Primary Health Centre in Ludhiana said rural women had a misconception that the report of everyone being tested for Covid would be positive. “The number of women coming for their monthly check-ups has also gone down,” she added.

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