Unavailability of ambulance leads to death of Marathi actress and her newborn baby post-delivery

A 25-year-old Marathi actress and her newborn baby died within hours of birth in Maharashtra’s Hingoli district on Sunday. According to the news reports, the police mentioned that she died due to the unavailability of an ambulance

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Relatives of the deceased actress, Pooja Zunjar, claimed she would have been alive had they managed to get an ambulance on time.

The incident took place on Sunday morning (October 20) in Hingoli district, in the Marathwada region, around 590 kms from Mumbai.

According to a news report, Pooja was rushed to a primary health centre in Goregaon, her native place within the district, around 2 am on Sunday after she went into labour. The newborn died within a few minutes of delivery.

The doctors at the primary health centre, then advised Pooja’s family members to shift her to the Hingoli Civil hospital, which is around 40 kms from Goregaon.

However, family members of Pooja struggled to find an ambulance. Relatives claim that if had they got an ambulance on time, she could have been saved. The police have registered a medico-legal complaint.

Pooja had played lead roles in two Marathi movies. She had taken a break from work due to pregnancy.

Dr Archana Patil, Director of State Family Welfare, Pune, said, “Over the years we have succeeded in reducing the number of maternal mortality, but still we need to do a lot. We are taking many steps to reduce maternal deaths and neonatal deaths. Schemes like Janani Shishu Suraksha Yojana, have helped a lot in reducing the number.”

Recent statistics by UNICEF on maternal mortality:

  • Globally, about 800 women die every day of preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth; 20 per cent of these women are from India.
  • Annually, it is estimated that 44,000 women die due to preventable pregnancy-related causes in India.
  • Mothers in the lowest economic bracket have about a two and a half times higher mortality rate.

Dr Santosh Mane, Assistant Director of State Family Welfare Department, Pune, said, “The state government has schemes like  Tribal Matrutva Anudan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Surkshit Matrutva Abhiyan etc. Also, we conduct a specialist check-up in tribal areas. We provide referrals to the tertiary care centre for patients from tribal areas. We are trying many things so that expert care is reached even to tribal areas.”

Dr Ramesh Bhosale, a gynaecologist from B J Medical College, Pune, said, “India’s maternal mortality rate reduced from 212 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2007 to 167 deaths in 2013. The advance is largely due to key government interventions such as the Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram (JSSK) scheme which encompasses free maternity services for women and children, a nationwide scale-up of emergency referral systems and maternal death audits, and improvements in the governance and management of health services at all levels. But still, when it comes to making advanced healthcare available in rural areas, we need to do a lot.”