The government will implement accelerating mother and child healthcare-1000 golden day plus allowance by February this year, according to the health minister, Dechen Wangmo.
Recently the cabinet approved Nu 1.8bn to accelerate mother and child healthcare allowance for next five years.
The program earlier was called maternity allowance and breastfeeding allowance. Now it has been revamped to 1000 golden days plus allowance.
1000 golden day plus counts from the conception till child is approximately around two-years old.
It is projected to cover 11,239 live childbirths and 10,621 women targeted annually.
Lyonpo said that during the time of conception a lot of brain development happens in the mother and it is important to provide her a safe, healthy and happy environment. It is a comprehensive package for mother and child.
To get the allowance, a mother should fulfill the criteria and conditions.
The conditions are that a pregnant mother should complete all the antenatal care (ANC) visits deliver in the institution, complete all the post natal checkup (PNC) visits and complete all the immunizations.
According to the ANC data, only about 24% of pregnant women complete the entire eight ANC visits to the hospital. For the safety of mother and child, a mother should make the eighth ANC visit.
Lyonpo mentioned that a mother should deliver a baby in the save environment in institutional delivery, and after the baby is delivered, exclusive breast feeding should be done and a mother should complete all PNC visits and immunization of a baby.
After a baby is six months old, a baby is given complementary food. A mother should know what food that baby needs to be fed. The growth of the child would also be monitored children’s disability screened if ant which will help address the issue at the earliest.
“We have said that we will give maternity allowance before, but before the child birth, the mother should be taken care of,” Lyonpo said.
During the first registration of a mother at ANC check up, a certain amount of money will be given to the mother.
Lyonpo said that it is not just dolling out money but giving money with conditions. “Raising a child is the collective responsibility of parents and the government.”
Lyonpo said that a mother will be asked to open a bank account. Financial literacy will also be given and after two to three days of registration the money will be deposited in a mother’s bank account.
Lyonpo said that then once the baby is delivered, this is when a mother needs to spent a lot of time and money. During the time the proportion of amount a mother gets will be higher. “We must assure that the child is healthy and happy.”
“The ultimate goal is human capital. I don’t think it is a expenditure for the government it is an investment. As a small nation we cannot afford not to invest in this because this is ensuring that we have healthy and strong future citizens who can shoulder the responsibility of nation building,” Lyonpo said, adding that government hopes to start the program by February 2020.
The government is still working on exact figures and modality of the allowance. All mothers, rural, private employee and housewife will get allowance except for those who get six months maternity leave.
Lyonpo said that they have an opportunity to empower the mothers to make the right decisions for their child. “We don’t want any mother feeding their child fizzy drinks.”
No other country has implemented the allowance for mother and child at this national level in this comprehensive manner.
“For the time being the funds for allowance will be from government coffer but we are also thinking beyond our tenure and will do fund raising for this and showcase this good practice globally,” Lyonpo said.
The money will be deposited monthly for an average of 30 months.
Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu