The government will frame rules to provide maternity allowance for rural women during the initial months of childbirth to ensure that only those who fulfill the prescribed criteria are eligible.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering reiterated the government’s commitment to fulfill the campaign pledge while interacting with journalists at Friday Meet yesterday at the Gyalyong Tshogkhang yesterday.

The government promised that the maternity allowance would match the daily wage rate. 

The government is confident that the pledges are doable and they would be delivered. The prime minister, however, said that the mothers must fulfill the requirement to be eligible to receive the allowance.

“Mothers who deliver in Bangkok and those who deliver at home will not be eligible. The mothers should not miss the routine antenatal check up and deliver in a hospital,” Dr Lotay Tshering said.

The programme is aimed at encouraging mothers to avail of proper health services and to deliver in a hospital. Home delivery, he said, was one of the causes of diseases such as CP (cerebral palsy) in children.

He said that the health ministry had been able to achieve institutional delivery of about 87 percent although the target was 100 percent. “We want to achieve 100 percent institutional delivery,” he said.

A regular check-up during the pregnancy, Dr Lotay Tshering said, would ensure good health of the newborn.

He said mothers needed both mental and physical peace to produce milk. Rural women, he said, needed maternity allowance since they did not enjoy either mental peace or physical rest.

He said it was one of the pledges the party was criticised for during the campaign period.

“I felt very sad whenever I received beatings on this pledge,” he said.

However, he did not elaborate when the programme would be implemented.

He said that the budget will be allocated on a priority basis so that it is possible for the government to implement the pledge.

The Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa in its manifesto states that rural women are also engaged in works related to domestic and farms and that it would not make sense to deny allowances to those women who deliver babies.

At the moment, paid maternity leave is given to mothers in public sector and DHI companies. “DNT will ensure the benefits are extended to all women who give birth so that it contributes to childcare as well as mother’s health.”

MB Subba