Shillong: The Meghalaya Legislative Assembly Committee on Empowerment of Women has directed the state health department to come up with an action plan to address the high infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR) in the state, especially in the Garo Hills region.
According to the committee, as per records, West Garo Hills District alone has recorded over 140 maternal deaths during the past six months.
The committee, headed by opposition Congress leader and MLA of Shillong East M Ampareen Lyngdoh, will suggest the state government to work out a policy to curb teenage pregnancy as it has become a menace in the state.
The committee recently conducted a tour to the two districts of the region, West Garo Hills and East Garo Hills, to ensure women’s rights are protected.
After chairing a meeting with the officials of the health department, Lyngdoh told reporters that the committee is concerned with the alarming numbers of IMR and MMR in the two districts.
The chairperson also informed that the health officials have pointed out the high presence of anemia and very low institutional deliveries as some of the main reasons for high MMR and teenage pregnancy for the high IMR. “We need to act quickly to change these numbers,” she said.
Lyngdoh said that most of the women could not avail of the maternity benefit programme under the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) just because local banks and financial institutions failed to facilitate opening of bank accounts for them.
Another reason is because most of the pregnant women were underage and are not qualified to avail the benefits of the scheme, she added.
The chairperson further said that the committee is also waiting for the report from the chief secretary before suggesting the state government to come up with a policy to discourage teenage pregnancy.
“We have also asked the district health services of West Garo Hills and East Garo Hills to come up with consolidated plan to address the high prevalence of anemia among pregnant women,” she said.
On the other hand, Lyngdoh said the concern expressed by women NGOs on the problem of manpower shortage faced by the women police stations was also discussed during the meeting, which was also attended by the Director General of Police (DGP) R Chandranathan.
She said the DGP has assured the committee that the matter will be addressed by the department.
With regards to sexual harassment at the workplace, Lyngdoh said the committee was assured that all-out effort will be put in both government and non-government institutions.