India has one of the highest maternal mortality rates. 800 women die globally every day and 20% of these deaths are reported from India. These deaths are in most cases from preventable causes. As for infant mortality, currently, 38 deaths are reported for every 1000 live births. Though we are closer to achieving our Millenium Development Goals (MDG) of reducing infant mortality and mortality of children under five years of age by two-thirds, we still have a long way to go. In rural India, 438 mothers die for every 100000 live births. This number is much higher than the national average of 174 deaths, which is also a number that we are trying to bring down. Apart from the lack of health care facilities, the lack of knowledge on neonatal and postnatal care is also a major cause of infant and maternal deaths in Rural India. Bihar-based NGO Seva Setu is working to help pregnant women have a safe pregnancy and childbirth through their Each One, Reach One program.
They have enlisted the help of urban mothers and women to spend an hour every week to talk to the women in rural Bihar and support them through their journey with information on the latest government schemes, doctor appointments, etc.
Priyanka Devi from Vaishali district, Bihar was unhappy to learn about her pregnancy. Her first child had died due to pneumonia within two months of its birth. The doctors didn’t diagnose the problem in time. She also wasn’t informed that she has anaemia during pregnancy which also led to developmental problems for her child. With this experience, she was unsure how to proceed with the current pregnancy.
During this period, she received a call from one of Seva Setu’s Call Champions, informing her that the call champion was there to talk to. Over the next couple of months, they interacted once a fortnight and discussed her health and progress of her pregnancy. During these talks, the call champion told her about the various check ups that she needed to undergo. In March 2016, Priyanka delivered her second child. She was delighted to have had a safe childbirth and a healthy child. And of course, she shared this amazing news with her Call Champion.
This call champion, Bharti Priyamvad, is a program manager at a large IT company in Bangalore. She is currently helping five soon-to-be mothers from Bihar. She spends an hour on each weekend for these calls. For her, apart from helping other women have a safe pregnancy, these calls are also the best stress busters.
In another case, Suman Devi (name changed) from Bhatta Dasi village in the district of Vaishali was aware of every step she needed to take during her pregnancy. But her husband and in-laws did not allow her to visit the doctor. They felt that blood tests and other checks would harm the mother and the unborn child. Their superstitious beliefs could harm the mother and the child.
Prithika Ojha, the call champion tried her best to convince the family. When they did not agree, she informed the Seva Setu team. The field team visited Suman and her family. It was an uphill battle, but with persistent counselling, Prithika and the field team convinced the family to go to the hospital. Once there, they were happy that their grandchild was born healthy and safely.
For other information regarding the program, visit http://sevasetu.org/mother_care/
If you have comments, write to Seva Setu on [email protected]
The Logical Indian requests everyone to share this information with anyone interested to volunteer. Let us help these women usher motherhood in a healthy and safe way.