Training Midwives: K R Gouri Amma

[Proceedings of the Travancore-Cochin Legislative Assembly,  3rd Session, 1952, pp. ]


Discussion on the Travancore-Cochin Nurses and Midwives Bill 1952


Smt K R Gouri :             Sir, I agree with the spirit of this Bill. But … my view is that Clause 10 of the Bill includes very severe conditions. Because, according to this Bill, only those who have received scientific training are allowed to practice. On the contrary, there are many midwives with considerable skill and experience in our rural areas. Nothing is mentioned about them in this. Midwives were invited for training recently, after a gap of 3 years. The demand for their services has been increasing steadily in the state. Though the Government has been inviting applications, there has been a dearth of applicants. In this situation, the conditions in the Bill should be loosened a little. Though people seem to feel the same the contempt and misunderstand they have for film stars for nurses and midwives, they have carried on in this line of work putting up with all of it. Sir, when, recently, applications were invited for nurses to be trained, around 250 applications were received. Out of these 150 were selected. Only of them received a stipend. None of the others had a stipend. They have been given notice to appear for training in non-stipendiary status. It is not clear how many of these will actually join. Because it is the poor who set out to do this work. None of them have the capacity to attend such a long training spending their own money. Since we do not have the required number of nurses in rural area even now, it is dangerous to eliminate the ayahs [midwives] who work there now. These are not people who will both to register. The Government’s decision that this work should be done by those with examination qualification is a wise one.But with the numbers of midwives available now, we may be able to meet the needs of towns and surrounding areas but not those of women in rural areas. There are so many villages that they [the trained midwives] have never seen. In these places, most needs are met by the traditional pathichis. In my place, there is no chance to find a doctor or nurse for childbirth. It is these women who attend to the births there. But once this Bill gets passed, it will be illegal for them to practice without registering, and when they register, they will be liable to be penalised; this is sorry. And so my view is that in order to make these matters smooth, the Government must itself devise a scheme. The Preamble of the Bill itself declares that it is about registration and training. A scheme for training enough numbers of midwives and nurses should also be included in the Bill. My view is that it should not impede the former [midwives]…

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