June 21, 2012

NAMHHR study on Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) scheme

NAMHHR partners initiated a study on the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) piloted by the Central Government in selected districts of West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. The scheme aims at providing maternity benefits to women in the unorganized sector. The amount of Rs.4000 promised by the IGMSY is available only to those pregnant women who are over 18 years of age and those who have experienced less than two live births. The disbursal of installments is conditional to registration of the pregnancy at the health centre, immunization of the mother and child, exclusive breastfeeding and growth monitoring of children.

The NAMHHR study focused on those women who stand excluded due to the eligibility criteria  of this scheme. The study explored their increased vulnerabilities in terms of loss of work, health, incomes access to food and rest in the course of maternity. The interviews with selected women from the districts of Bankura (West Bengal), Bargarh (Odisha), Purbi Singhbhum (Jharkhand) and Mahoba (Uttar Pradesh) threw light on how the vulnerabilities imposed by poverty and uncertain livelihoods both worsen and are worsened by the experience of maternity for these women. The conditions of exclusion are unfair especially given that choices pertaining to bearing children and birth control are shaped by the collective experience of child survival and access to health services in these parts.  The study reveals how maternity is embedded within the vicious cycles of poverty, ill health and impoverishment that the women and their families survive in. It underlines the importance of state support in breaking this cycle through benefits, public health care and services ensuring food and nutrition security for the women and their families.

Stories of Excluded women on Motherhood

This is a series of semi-fictionalized accounts of the lives of the women we had interviewed and interacted with in the course of the study of non-beneficiaries of the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahayog Yojana (IGMSY) in the states of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand. The IGMSY is a conditional cash transfer scheme that is being piloted by the Central Government in selected districts of the country. The scheme offers maternity benefits to all women, expect those women (or their husbands) employed in the government and the organized sector. However the scheme has certain eligibility criteria. One can be potential beneficiary only if one has less than two children and is over 18 years of age. Thus a large number of very vulnerable working class women are left out of its ambit.

These stories offer a glimpse of the everyday lives of a few women in different parts of these four states.

June 20, 2012

Monitoring Free Maternal Health Services in Uttar Pradesh

NAMHHR Founder member Health Watch Forum (HWF), Uttar Pradesh is a network of voluntary organizations and individuals working on reproductive health and rights issues.  On the occasion of International Day of Action for Women’s Health on 28th May 2012, HWF in collaboration with a grassroot womens' Forum named Mahila Swasthya Adhikar Manch (MSAM) organised a state level advocacy dialogue with the NRHM  mission director and other state level health officials. The MSAM is a unique Forum of 11,000 poor, rural and marginalized women spread across 10 districts of Uttar Pradesh and is committed to monitoring and advocating for Women’s rights to health.

The event was organized to present the data collected by MSAM women through a village level survey in 188 revenue villages of 18 blocks of 10 districts, to assess 370 women’s experiences of accessing free maternal health services in Government hospitals (please read the detailed report on http://sahayogindia.org/new1/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/MSAM-Report-of-free-MH-services-in-11-dists-UP-2012.pdf ).  The results of this survey were presented before the panelists which included Chief Guest Shri Mukesh Kumar Meshram, Mission Director NRHM UP, and special guests Ms. Sunita Aron, Resident Editor Hindustan Times, Ms. Arundhati Dhuru, Social Activist,Shri Hari Om Dixit, SPMU NRHM UP, Shri Amod Kumar, Mission Director of Manthan Project and Ms. Jashodhara Dasgupta, Coordinator, SAHAYOG Lucknow.

The Mission Director of NRHM, Mr. Meshram showed interest in the key findings of the survey and felt that strong actions needs to be taken to improve the status of the marginalized women in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Also, he appreciated SAHAYOG 's project Meri Swasthya Meri Awaz which uses mobile phones to track out-of-pocket expenses and informal fees incurred accessing free maternal health services by the women in the districts of Mirzapur and Azamgarh(to learn more please click here-http://meraswasthyameriaawaz.org/).  He felt that this was an excellent way of promoting accountability and expressed an interest in linking this site with the official NRHM website and extending it to other district of the state.

The event was attended by nearly 100 MSAM women and local allies. Representatives of NAMHHR Secretariat Y.K.Sandhya and Aditi Sood attended the event

June 14, 2012

Workshop on Maternal Deaths: Dead Women Talking

NAMHHR was represented by Jashodhara Dasgupta, YK Sandhya and Sashi Bindhani in a workshop Dead Women Talking, organized jointly by CHAD (CMC, Vellore), CommonHealth and Sama in Chennai on 2nd and 3rd June, 2012.The objective of the workshop was to share the various experiences and cases of maternal mortality from different parts of the country. This sharing set the context for evolving a framework and developing tools that would enable maternal death reviews to be analysed comprehensively from an overarching framework of accountability and move beyond the narrow ambit of medical maternal death audits that were being conducted at present. The meeting was successful in creating a consensus on the need for the modification of the existing tools and process of maternal death audits, to include four thematic areas, namely: i) Exclusion and Power ii) Social Determinants iii) addressing rights within the health system, and iv) health system related issues.

Members from organisations working on the issue of maternal deaths from various state of the country participated in the discussions. NAMHHR participants joined the other feminist and rights-based groups in emphasizing the human rights angle and the issue of social justice in the framework proposed for the analysis of maternal deaths. As a follow up, NAMHHR members will work with other allies to prepare a revised MDR tool and Framework of Analysis that will be used to build capacities of civil soceity groups in September towards carrying out a pilot effort to review maternal deaths across several locations in India.