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India: Where Pregnant Women are More than Statistics

Neither she nor her husband knew what to do when Champa, who became pregnant with her first child, was diagnosed with malaria. There, her maternal relatives took her from the couple’s house in Hatimanda, a tribal village in the western Simbum district of Jharkhand, eastern India, to her birthplace in another nearby village. There, a witch doctor was asked to cure her, as was the custom of the local tribe. Despite her several attempts, Champa remained ill and she was sent back to her current village. A few days later, when members of her local women’s self-help group found her during the meeting, they were surprised to see her poor health. These women attended participatory learning and behavioral meetings focusing on the causes of death for their mothers and newborns and knew that if they did not act quickly, Champa could die. Malaria during pregnancy causes bleeding and can cause maternal and neonatal death. Funding was immediately arranged by a group of women to cover transportation and other costs to rush her champa to the hospital.

This is just one example of why India has reduced maternal mortality (MMR) by 22% since 2013, from 167 in 2011-2013 to 130 in 2014-2016. am. The latest official figure.. This means that nearly 1,000 women will die from pregnancy-related complications each month. Still, lack of access to information, knowledge, and medical services in many parts of the country causes an estimated 44,000 women to die each year from pregnancy-related causes.

For Champa and her child, it was a near miss. If she hadn’t been taken to the hospital in time, they would have been just another statistic. Timely interventions like her have also been made possible by sharing stories and playing games with picture cards depicting measures seeking preventive care with participatory learning and behavior (PLA). Saved the life of a woman. These sessions are EkjutA non-profit organization, learns and recognizes that women have two main causes of maternal and child death: delaying the need for professional care and the inability to find suitable medical facilities. Made it possible to prevent.

But today, by putting the newly discovered knowledge into action, women can reduce maternal mortality by 20% and neonatal mortality by 30% in 600 villages, including Jharkhand and neighboring Orissa. I did.To evaluation Of Ekjut’s work. Impressed by their approach and its impact, the country announced in 2016 the decision to use the Ekjut model to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in eight states. Today, PLA meetings are held in 40,000 villages by government front-line workers trained by Ekjut, allowing approximately one million women to manage their health.

By using a unique approach to empowering women’s mothers and newborns through a monthly participatory learning and behavioral cycle, women first identify, prioritize and analyze health issues for local mothers and newborns. And then I was able to develop a strategy to deal with them. It results in a significant reduction in MMR and NMR. Within three years of starting PLA intervention in 2005 in 193 villages in three predominantly tribal adjacent districts of Jharkhand and Orissa, neonatal mortality was reduced by 45% and maternal mortality was reduced by 20%. It decreased and postpartum depression decreased by 57. percent.

“It was the power of engagement, inspiration, and challenging stories that made a difference. The strategy was to share knowledge, not to push it into the throat,” said Secretary and Director Prasanta Kishoreri. Dr. Passy said. Ekjut. “”We wanted to break the culture of silence among the left-behind communities, always accepting what happened to them and destined for it. Therefore, meetings are neither normative nor technical, “he continues. “It’s an attempt to make them believe that they too can change things and make changes together.”

This is why Ekjut first chose a clear woman from the community to train as a facilitator. These facilitators were tasked with reaching out to women in the two districts of Jharkhand (West Simbumu and Saraikela) and the neighboring Keonjhar district of Orissa. According to Ekjut co-founder Dr. Nirmala Nair, the reason this model is so robust is to “guarantee that the mother will not miss it.”

In fact, the effectiveness of PLA’s contribution to improving maternal and neonatal health outcomes was in 2010 after the leading medical journal Lancet and the World Health Organization evaluated Ekjut’s work in 600 villages in Jharkhand and Orissa. Further verified in 2013. Participatory meetings confirmed that neonatal and maternal mortality was reduced. “Therefore, this model has been upgraded to include the Power Dialog (Shakti Varta) and is now an official society of two states in Jharkhand, along with women’s groups and civil society facilitators in 15 high-risk districts by the Orissa state government. It is used throughout Health Activities (ASHA), says Madiya Pradesh, “says Sibanandras, Ekjut Team Leader in Orissa.

In addition, Ekjut, honored by the 2015 WHO Public Health Champion in the Innovative PLA Initiative, is now using its strategy to combat gender-based violence. So far, the first findings in Jharkhand, where about 40% of married women between the ages of 15 and 49 are experiencing some form of domestic violence, are promising. “This is because women are no longer passive recipients,” Dr. Tripacy adds. “They are change.”

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Written by Fem Society

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