Bhopal: Carried on a makeshift cloth stretcher for 8 km with villagers using shovels and spades to level out muddy patches – a 20-year-old woman’s experience of giving birth in rural Madhya Pradesh this week appeared to have changed little from an ordeal 200 years ago.
When Sunita, a resident of Rajpura village in Barwani district, went into labour on Thursday her family and neighbours were left with no other option but to carry her themselves to a nearby village since her forest hamlet has no road connecting it with a hospital.
Bundling her into a bedsheet tied to a bamboo pole on their shoulders, they carried her for 8 km to the Rani Kajal village that has a dirt track. An ambulance waiting at the village then took her to a hospital another 20 km away.
The Community Health Centre at Pansemal where she gave birth, 28 km away, is the nearest hospital to her village and yet there is no way to get there except by foot, locals say, in an egregious indictment of health services and connectivity in the farthest corners of the country.
While Sunita delivered her baby on Friday and both the mother and the child are doing fine, according to doctors, she could have been spared the inhumane experience had there been a hospital closer by or a better road.
According to residents of Rajpura, located nearly 400 km Bhopal in the southeastern corner of Madhya Pradesh, applications for a road have been submitted to the public representatives of both the Congress and the BJP over the years but nothing has been done.
Many pregnant women and people suffering from diseases have had to go through the same ordeal as Sunita in the past.