National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights (NAMHHR) was started on 20th January 2010. Several civil society organizations from seven states of India got together and agreed on the need to strengthen maternal health as an issue of women’s human rights, given the sheer scale of the problem at seventy to eighty thousand women dying each year in India of preventable causes related to maternity.

The group recognizes that there is an urgent need for women's organizations, health organizations, groups working on law and human rights, and mass-based organizations to come together on this issue. Strong rights-based strategies are needed to build greater accountability for these thousands of preventable deaths among women in India.

The Alliance currently has 37 members from 14 states of India, as well as expert advisors working with research, Right to Food, public health, right to medicines and budget accountability.  The Secretariat of the Alliance is housed in SAHAYOG, Delhi and is currently being directed by a 10 member Steering Committee; who are keen to seek inputs and guidance from a specialized Associate Body.

Key Issues Identified

1. Lack of available services at PHC and CHC level, and the refusal or denial of services to poor women
2. Discrimination and social exclusion and its impact on health access
3. Corruption in the health system and harassment of the poor
4. The current vertical programme approach focusing exclusively on childbirth has led to neglect of the continuum of care from pregnancy to the post-partum stage, and services for abortion or post-abortion complications.
5. Safety and continuum of care in Home Delivery
6. Nutrition and Right to Food
7. Accountability and surveillance systems to prevent maternal mortality
8. Quality of care as a concern
9. Grievance Redressal systems
10. Social Security for pregnancy and childbirth
11. Women in vulnerable situations and maternal health services
12. The weakening of health systems and persistent lack of skilled human resources, sufficient drugs or supplies
13. Considerable promotion of the private sector in health care provision at the policy level, without adequate regulation or evidence base.
14. Policy-level neglect of local knowledge, beliefs, practices and resources; combined with poor utilization of providers from AYUSH and local Dais, who are indeed more accessible and affordable for the rural poor in India.

Shared Perspective on Maternal Health

Maternal health and maternal mortality is an issue of social inequity, as it is faced by the most marginal communities and women in vulnerable situations. Maternal mortality is also the one-point indicator on the quality of primary health services, and poor health systems that fail to provide healthcare for low income communities. It is affected by many social determinants affecting women’s health including gender discrimination, social exclusion and discrimination , displacement, violence, conflict, and the lack of basic necessities such as nutrition, livelihoods, safe water and sanitation.

Our Common Minimum Principles:

1. We stand for- gender equality, sexual and other diversity, social justice, transparency, accountability
2. We do not accept – sexual harassment, any form of discrimination, or communal or any other form of violence

Our Rights Based Strategies for Improving Maternal Health

1. Community Empowerment through organizing, monitoring and Jan Sunwais
2. Legal Strategies
3. Media Advocacy
4. Information dissemination: Studies and evidence building
5. Legislative advocacy
6. State PIP recommendations
7. Capacity building
8. Budget tracking 

NAMHHR Brochure