WHO South-East Asia Journal of Public Health
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 247-253

Access to and utilization of voucher scheme for referral transport: a qualitative study in a district of West Bengal, India

1 College of Medicine and Sagar Dutta Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
2 North Bengal Medical College, Darjeeling, West Bengal, India
3 R G Kar Medical College, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
4 UNICEF, Office for West Bengal, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
5 Institute of Health and Family Welfare, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Correspondence Address:
Dipta K Mukhopadhyay
Lokepur, Near NCC Office, Bankura 722102, West Bengal
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DOI: 10.4103/2224-3151.206747

PMID: 28612809

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Background: Lack of motorized transport in remote areas and cash in resource-constrained settings are major obstacles to women accessing skilled care when giving birth. To address these issues, a cashless voucher transport scheme to enable women to give birth in a health-care institution, covering poor and marginalized women, was initiated by the National Rural Health Mission in selected districts of India in 2009. Methods: The access to and utilization of the voucher scheme were assessed between December 2010 and February 2011 through a qualitative study in the district of Purulia, West Bengal, India. Data were collected from in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with women, front-line health-care workers, programme managers and service providers. Results: The main factors influencing coverage and utilization of the scheme were: reliance on ill-prepared gram panchayats (village councils) for identification of eligible women; poor birth preparedness initiatives by health-care workers; over-reliance on telephone communication; restricted availability of vehicles, especially at night and in remote areas; no routine monitoring; drivers’ demand for extra money in certain situations; and low reimbursement for drivers for long-distance travel. Conclusion: Departure from guidelines, ritualistic implementation and little stress on preparedness of both the community and the health system were major obstacles. Increased enthusiasm among stakeholders and involvement of the community would provide opportunities for strengthening the scheme.

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