Promoting Maternal-Child Health in Rural India

In 2015, WEIF launched several initiatives to promote health for women and children in remote, under-served communities. Poor health and lack of health information and resources pose an additional challenge to women and children in communities ascending out of poverty. Over the past five years, WEIF has been addressing maternal and child health by training local healthcare experts, and we plan to continue our efforts to spread health knowledge into 2016 to remove poor health as a barrier for families and communities working to achieve financial stability.

Training Local Health Experts

Between 2012 and 2015, WEIF and GVET trained 36 youth as nurse's aides to provide health information and basic care to their communities in Dahanu Taluka, Maharashtra, India. Under the new Maternal-Child Health Initiative, WEIF and our partners will train six additional nurse's aides in Dahanu Taluka, and three in the slums of Sion, Mumbai. Trainees will spend six months learning theory at the Nareshwadi Learning Centre and six months receiving hands-on training at KJ Somaiya Hospital in Mumbai.

These nurse's aides will act as health educators and a first point of access for healthcare in remote communities. Once certified, these trainees will hold information sessions on important issues such as nutrition, hygiene, and neonatal care to promote the well-being of families and improving health-seeking behaviour in the region.

Dahanu Taluka Region

In Dahanu Taluka, all graduates of the nurse’s aide program from 2012 to 2016 are either employed in local nursing homes, or completing an Auxiliary Nursing and Maternity course to become eligible for government jobs.

In 2014, two graduates of this program were selected to work on a Maternal and Child Health Pilot program designed by the Nareshwadi Learning Centre. This pilot program focused on assessing existing practices in antenatal and post-natal care in tribal communities, the effectiveness of care available at the Government Primary Health Centre, and identifying gaps to be addressed. The aim of this initiative is to curb infant mortality and support the health of women. This program will also assess coverage of the immunization program for children under five. WEIF plans to move forward on this project in 2016 by hiring an additional doctor to care for women in this area, providing health education seminars to local women delivered by local nurse's aides, conducting heath and immunization checks for local children under five, and focusing cultivation and livelihood training on pregnant women and those with children under five.

Health Camps in Bihar

The remote villages around Padampur in Bihar, the second poorest state in India, and the site of the Manthan supplementary schooling program, are also in desperate need of a maternal and child health intervention. Health challenges, accompanied by limited education and minimal access to healthcare have created a barrier in communities trying to develop financial stability. As part of the multifaceted cultivation and livelihood project (Village Improvement Program) initiated by WEIF and supported by Luke Four Foundation, in 2014, health camps were arranged for the villages of Parsoni, Padampur, Lokahi, and Lakshminiya, and were conducted in March of 2015.

Each village hosted a health camp for one day in March, and between 105 and 112 community members attended each camp. In Parsoni and Lakshminiya, Dr. Jitender, a pharmacist with a diploma in medical science and 15 years of hospital experience volunteered his time to see patients and address common complaints. In Padampur and Lokahi, Dr. Digambar, a professional physician (MBBS) with 12 years of experience saw patients. In total, the two health care providers saw 437 people over the course of four days, including 272 children, 105 women, and 60 men.

Health Camps are part of WEIF's ongoing attempt to address the desperate need for health care in these remote communities. The camps provide health care, and increase community health knowledge. WEIF hopes to continue to hold health camps while working towards more sustainable long-term solutions, and we rely on our generous donors to continue to make our projects a reality.

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