Govt: COVID Test Not Mandatory for Reproductive, Maternal Services
“Critical services for women, children and adolescents should be provided irrespective of their COVID-19 status.”
In its guidelines released on Wednesday, 27 May, the health ministry of India asserted the need for the constant provision of essential services related to reproductive, maternal newborn, child and adolescent health, and nutrition (RMNCAH+N) during and post the COVID-19 pandemic.
While these services had been deemed ‘essential’ in mid-April itself, the new guidelines reiterate that ‘it is important to ensure the availability of these services during this period as any denial can have an impact on maternal and newborn mortalities, morbidities as well as the health care costs’.
FIT had earlier reported on how despite being essential, abortion and pregnancy services have been inaccessible for a lot of people during the lockdown.
“Also, unwanted pregnancies have negative impact on maternal and new born health. Regulating fertility is thus a necessity. There is need to enhance provision of safe abortion services besides post-partum and post abortion contraception.”Health Ministry
The guidelines also elaborate exactly how the various RMNCAH+N services are to be provided at different levels in accordance with the zonal categorization of containment zones, buffer zones and beyond.
Any area exiting a 'containment/buffer zone' can start RMNCAH+N activities as listed in 'areas beyond buffer zone' after a minimum gap of 14 days following delisting. An area entering a 'containment and buffer zone' should restrict these activities immediately.
Specific Guiding Principles for Provision of RMNCAH+N Services
- All COVID suspect and positive cases should preferably be provided services at dedicated COVID facility.
- COVID testing is not mandatory for RMNCAH+N service. ICMR testing guidelines need to be followed.
- Teleconsultation services to be promoted at all levels to prevent overcrowding and reduce cross infection.
- Drugs, commodities needed for continuing RMNCAH+N services, should be treated as essential commodities.
- Home deliveries of essential medicines like IFA, Calcium, ORS, Zinc, contraceptives etc. can be organized in containment zone.
- Capacity building of all healthcare providers, review meetings etc. should preferably be carried out using digital health platforms.
The ministry also said that mother and newborn should be nursed together as far as possible and breastfeeding must be initiated within 1 hour of delivery, irrespective of COVID-19 status, PTI reported. But the mother should put on a face mask and practice hand hygiene before feeding the child.
The following campaign mode services can be provided on an alternative mechanism like through home delivery of essential services & commodities etc. based on local situation:
- Mass vitamin A prophylaxis
- Campaigns for Intensified Diarrhea Control Fortnight (IDCF)
- National Deworming Day (NDD)
- Test treat and Talk (T3) camps for Anemia.
The Ministry asserted that critical services for women, children and adolescents should be provided irrespective of their COVID-19 status and under no circumstances should there be a denial of essential services.
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