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Saving new moms the simple way

Every year as many as 70,000 women in India die during pregnancy and childbirth, making it 25% of all maternal deaths worldwide. HT reports. Analysis of White Ribbon Alliance India | Pics: Safe motherhood

delhi Updated: Mar 06, 2011 12:01 IST
HT correspondent

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s doubling the paychecks of anganwadi workers, the mainstay of mother and child health in villages, from Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000, will help save thousands of women who die at childbirth across India.

Every year as many as 70,000 women in India die during pregnancy and childbirth, making it 25% of all maternal deaths worldwide.

Aganwadi workers are instrumental in ensuring women deliver babies under medical supervision. Laying special emphasis on taking care of their monetary needs is a step in the right direction by the government. The government is making certain that the underprivileged women are encouraged to deliver at hospitals and healthcare centres, rather than at homes with no trained hand to supervise, to reduce the maternal mortality rate.

Though the maternal mortality rate – maternal deaths per one lakh birth -- is falling, but the rate at which it is coming down is not as high as in other developing countries. Experts feel a much extensive campaigning is required to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of 109 deaths every 100,000 live births.

What you can do to save lives

* Join the movement to stop maternal deaths and disabilities

* Use your position to speak out for safe motherhood at forums, press meets and public platforms

* Give your time — attend or host safe motherhood advocacy events, meetings, dinner, parties etc

* Write blogs, facebook, twitter and use other social networking sites to convey messages

* Involve young people

The international advocacy group for safe motherhood, White Ribbon Alliance’s (WRA) chapter is active across various states in the country since 1999. One of the measures the group takes to spread awareness among women and their families about the importance of protecting lives of women and newborns is by teaming up with these local health workers.

Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) have a wide network among locals in any state, especially the underserved population, and are the best way of propagating awareness among them on crucial causes.

The group motivates like-minded people who are committed to increasing public awareness on the issue. It started with six organizations, and now has grown into formal national alliance with members across the country, including 107 organisations at the national level and 1,500 organisations at the state level. The alliance is spread across multiple agencies such as non-government organisations, UN agencies, private foundations, medical professionals, academics, committed youth etc.

“We are an advocacy group. We are not the providers, but act as a catalyst for action to address the issue. Touching base with local healthcare workers gives us the platform to interact with women who really need help. A smooth flow of information about their rights is the most import task in front of us, as the level of ignorance among women is quite high,” said Aparajita Gogoi, national co-coordinator, WRAI.

What women want

* More health providers

* Better quality of care

* Better accountability, including investigation of irregularities in maternity benefits

* No unnecessary recommendation of C-sections in order to charge more money

* Proper attitude of service providers across all levels.

Analysis of White Ribbon Alliance India