Shillong: The Assembly Committee on Women’s Empowerment once again expressed concern over the high maternal mortality rate (MMR) in the last three months in Meghalaya.

Speaking to the media after holding a virtual meeting with health department officials, chairperson of the committee, Ampareen Lyngdoh said that numbers are alarming as in March and April, there were 13 MMR-related deaths each. The numbers for May are yet to be ascertained.

Of the MMR deaths, five were reported from the East Khasi Hills district, six from the West Garo Hills, and one each from North Garo Hills and South West Khasi Hills.
The Committee also expressed concern that there is also pressure for survival on women in childbirth procedures during this pandemic. They also had a detailed discussion on the matter, and they were assured that the health department is looking into the matter.

As far as vaccination of health workers is concerned, the Committee was informed that 85 per cent of the health workers have been vaccinated, and the department is even contemplating to hold one to one consultations with those health workers who are still hesitant about vaccines.

Lyngdoh said that in about 300 COVID related deaths, none of them were vaccinated and hence the vaccination should be re-enforced in the entire state and as vaccines would be the best protection from COVID-19.

The Committee is also going to have a subsequent meeting to discuss the matters about the ex-gratia of people who died from COVID-19, but committee member HM Shangpliang said the ex-gratia amount should be increased to Rs 1 lakh.

The Committee also took note of the death of a pregnant nurse from COVID and called upon the health department to do whatever is needed in terms of compensation to the victim’s family. “We have been given assurance, and we will watch and see what actions will be taken from the department,” Lyngdoh added.

The Committee also appealed to all the private hospitals besides NEIGRIHMS to ensure that all pregnant health workers work from home without denying them their salaries even as the Committee lamented the huge shortage of vaccines in the state for the age group of 18-44 years.

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