05
Dec

Improving Maternal and Child Health in the Agariya community

 

 

The NGO:

Janpath is a non-profit organization based in Ahemdabad, Gujarat. It was established in response to the need felt by social workers and activists to have a state wide network to develop linkages among voluntary organizations to help & support small community based organizations and to do public advocacy with media, government and citizenry at large, on critical issues of development and social justice in the state of Gujarat. JANPATH has been working with Agariya Community for last ten years focusing on community empowerment, advocacy, monitoring of government programs and recently on improving maternal and child healthcare.

 

Agariyas work on the salt pans of the Little Rann of Kutch

Agariyas work on the salt pans of the Little Rann of Kutch

Project Rationale:

Agariyas, i.e. the traditional salt makers, have access to abysmal services when migrating for 8 months to desert region of LRK, Gujarat, to make salt in harshest condition. Studies show 82 % Agariya community fall within “deprivation limit” when measured in indicators like nutrition, education, child and maternal healthcare. We support Janpath, our grassroot NGO partners, to advocate for sustainable maternal and child health and nutrition services for Agariyas.

 

Approach: The three tier strategy

  • Community empowerment: Educate and spread awareness regarding health/nutrition issues and services amongst Agariyas. Train (specially female) community health workers and advocacy leaders.
  • Government advocacy : Advocate for Government to take ownership of providing quality health and nutrition services.
  • Demonstration of  model health and nutrition system that can be adopted by Govt for providing sustainable health and nutrition services to the migrating communities
Women get trained to become health workers

Women get trained to become health workers

Impact (first two years of project)

  •  Community empowerment: Agariya women leaders are now taking charge of advocacy efforts, demanding health services from Govt. Several community women members were identified and trained as health workers by the Govt. Health camps and conventions organized saw an increased attendance of Agariyas, where maternal health issues and entitlement were discussed for the first time. A weekly radio program was started to discuss maternal health issues by experts.
  • Government advocacy: Govt. incorporated separate health plans and funds for the desert area, including planning of Gynec camps in desert, mobile health van routes, pre-screening of women and children in village, strengthening public health units in peripheral villages and extension of insurance scheme to Agariyas. Little Rann of Kutch was included in Project implementation plan of National Rural Health Mission

Moving forward

The major challenge moving ahead is lack of a model system for disbursing maternal health and nutrition services in the desert

  • Demonstration of a model health and nutrition system.
  • Setting up make shift shelters in the desert where Agariyas, mobilized by trained community health workers, can get together to learn about maternal health entitlements. These learning centers will be visited by experts, mobile health officers.
  • Training Agariya health workers for using mobile health technology for systematically collecting maternal health and nutrition related data. This data will be leveraged to provide the Govt. schemes and monitor the progress of the model.

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