The Ministry of Health (MoH) has submitted the proposal on Accelerating Mother and Child Health Program (AMCHP) to the Ministry of Finance (MoF), and it may roll out in the upcoming fiscal year of 2022-2023.
MoH had planned to implement the maternity allowance last year but it was kept on hold over funding issues. The Cabinet on 6 January 2020 had approved Nu 1.8 billion for the ‘Accelerated Mother and Child Healthcare Allowance,’ for the next five years.
An official from MoH said the fund for AMCHP is Nu 488.79 million (USD 6.51million) per year. The MoF has been tasked to explore funds for the AMCHP.
The official said after the enrollment of eligible women in the program, the allowance will be disbursed to the women’s bank accounts after every required visit made to the health facility for antenatal checkup, institutional delivery and postnatal visit. The allowance will be released in 21 tranches from first booking of pregnancy till the child reaches 24 months.
All pregnant women are eligible for enrolment in maternity allowance program if they meet the criteria. The program will facilitate mothers who are not entitled to paid maternity leave to benefit from the government’s health services for 1,000 days irrespective of whether they are employed in the civil service or private sector, and receive less than 6 months of paid maternity leave.
All the pregnant women have to be confirmed pregnant following a first booking at a health facility in Bhutan, and they should be willing to participate in the program. However, in order to receive the allowance, women should make all the scheduled visits for antenatal, institutional delivery and postnatal checkup as well as comply with the requirements for immunization and growth monitoring.
Earlier the Finance Minister Namgay Tshering had said one area of investment will be a long term one, that is accelerating women and childcare from the time of conception up to two years, and there will be a complete package designed with various interventions to ensure healthier citizens.
The Minister said it has not really been delayed; but they had to put the package in proper shape so that the intended purpose of improving the health of mother and baby is achieved.