380 more beds to be added to State Special Newborn Care Unit across Maharashtra: Health Minister Dr Deepak Sawant

Namrata Devikar
Saturday, 16 December 2017

Pune: Health Minister Dr Deepak Sawant, on Thursday, said that in order to decrease the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), the State Special Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) will include 380 more beds across the State. However, as the State budget for this year has been reduced by more than Rs 600 crore, this statement cannot be upheld, as merely providing more beds in this situation will not provide a solution. The State health department will need more staff and infrastructure, along with the beds at SNCU.

Pune: Health Minister Dr Deepak Sawant, on Thursday, said that in order to decrease the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), the State Special Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) will include 380 more beds across the State. However, as the State budget for this year has been reduced by more than Rs 600 crore, this statement cannot be upheld, as merely providing more beds in this situation will not provide a solution. The State health department will need more staff and infrastructure, along with the beds at SNCU.

Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr Abhijit More, a public health expert based in Pune, said that the move by the health minister is welcome, however, the current budget constraints will affect the implementation.

"Along with the increased beds, a SNCU requires at least three paediatricians and other facilities like 24 hours electricity supply. Also, the supporting staff like nurses, and adequate infrastructure will help to make the system more efficient. However, with the current budget constraints, it seems difficult,” said More. 

According to the operational guidelines issued by the Government of India in 2011, a 12-bedded SNCU requires around Rs 51 lakh, without the salary of staff included. Along with this, 24-hour power supply, 24-hour uninterrupted water supply, air conditioning and proper lighting is a must for the facility. 

The equipment includes resuscitation, photo-therapy, thermo-regulation such as radiant warmers. 

More further added that if the government truly wants to reduce the IMR in the State, it should strengthen the Primary Healthcare Center (PHC). 

“SNCU caters to infants who have either low birth weight, or are pre-term. If the PHCs are strengthened, the nutritional status of these expecting mothers can be monitored. This will help reduce the number of infants going to SNCU,” said More.

Budget deficiency
- According to the State budget for 2017-18, the State government will be spending Rs 900 crore lesser towards nutrition schemes for the economically backward classes. 
- Along with this, the budget for the social welfare schemes have been reduced by Rs 400 crore.
- With severe neglect towards nutrition and social welfare schemes, an additional 380 beds to the SNCUs across the State will not be enough to reduce the IMR in the State.  

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