To celebrate motherhood, newborn babies and their mothers will get a ceremonial ride in the state’s new intiative “Vatsalaya” (which means mothers’/parents’ love). The ride back home from hospital after delivery will be in a decked-up ambulance — “Vatsalaya” — fitted with cushions for jerk-free journey and an LCD screen to give information about childcare and post-natal care of women. In addition, the mother and her baby will be sent home with several gifts.
The idea came from Gujarat where “Khilkhilat” ambulances pink in colour with cartoons drawn on it and a horn that sounds like a laughing child’s voice inspired Maharashtra health officials who planed a similar move here. The ambulance provides a nutrition kit for newborns and includes a list of vaccines to be given at specific times and information about nearby government hospitals.
Part of the state’s effort to care for women and her health, the ambulance will be launched on February 26 at the District Hospital, Aundh. State health minister Deepak Sawant, Principal Secretary Sujata Saumik and others will be present. A fortnight-long programme that begins on Women’s Health Day (Feb 26) and lasts till international Women’s Day (March 8) will give renewed focus on women’s health.
Sujata Saumik, Principal Secretary, Health, Maharashtra government, when contacted, told The Indian Express that a team of health officers visited Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan to understand how they tackled maternal and infant mortality. “Initially we will introduce the special ambulance for 11 women’s hospitals across the state,” Saumik said.
The ambulance will have toys and clothes for newborn as gifts, explained Dr Satish Pawar, Director of Health, Maharashtra. Now number “108” can be dialled for state emergency ambulance to take pregnant women to hospital for delivery.
Number “102” is dialled by those requiring ambulance service to take the mother and child back home post delivery. The difference is that the government hospital itself will bid fond adieu to the mother and child in the specially designed ambulance. “This kind of fanfare is appreciated in villages and hence we decided to emulate the Gujarat model,” Dr H H Chavan, Deputy Director of Health, Pune who visited various districts, said.
According to Pawar, annually an average 18 lakh deliveries are registered every year in Maharashtra and at least 10 lakh are at public government hospitals.. This special ambulance will also encourage more women to enlist with government institutions and reduce maternal and infant mortality rate.