Hindulaben decided to deliver her baby at her maternal home in Bamla, located in the tribal belt of India’s Gujarat state. This was her going to be her second child. She had delivered her first baby via Cesarean Section at the comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care unit at Jabugam. This unit is a Public-Private Partnership initiative of the Deepak Foundation with the Government of Gujarat. It is the only unit that provides free services of this nature to nine hundred thousand people living in the area.
Kavitaben is an ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist). When Hindulaben started having labor pains, Kavitaben called the Deepak Foundation’s emergency vehicle for her. However, all twenty-seven beds at Jabugam were occupied, and she was referred to a nearby private maternity home. Hindulaben was admitted to the latter, where she was told that a Cesarean Section would cost Rs. 9,000 – 10,000. When her family said that they did not have the money, they were told that the anesthetist was not available and that they would have to go to Dabhoi, 25 kilometers away. They returned to Jabugam in a state of desperation, where Kavitaben requested the hospital staff to admit Hindulaben. The doctor checked her in and delivered a baby girl by Cesarean Section. Hindulaben was in last stages of labor, and the scar of the previous Caesarean was on the verge of rupturing.
As Hindulaben was severely anemic and needed a blood transfusion, her father travelled nearly eighty kilometers to the Vadodara District hospital to procure blood. On reaching the District hospital, he struggled to locate the Help Desk from which he received a ‘card’ for procuring blood from a blood bank. He had to wait for two hours at the blood bank.
Says Hindulaben: “More (health) facilities like that at Jabugam should be made available in the nearby area so that more women can be saved. My family supported me and took me to Jabugam. But there are other women whose families cannot afford the transportation and other costs if taken to distant health facilities.”