Health & Eye Camps

26 September 2011

Four Years of Sure Start - Improving Maternal and Newborn Health

Sure Start is a global initiative to support community action for improving maternal and newborn health in India, and to enhance systems and institutional capabilities for sustained improvements in maternal and newborn health. It is linked to Millennium Development Goal 5, to improve maternal health globally.

BCC through flash card

In 2007 Deep Griha Society became one of Sure Start’s implementing agencies in Pune, along with three other NGOs and lead partner Project Concern International, Pune. Funding was provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The project in Pune was aimed at reducing maternal and neonatal mortality within a population of 120,000 spread throughout the 3 slum communities where Deep Griha works; Tadiwala Road, Ramtekadi and Ambedkarnagar.

This project ran in Pune for four years but has now come to an end. Although similar projects are being started in other parts of India, Deep Griha Society (DGS) is applying for new funding to be able to continue our work with expectant or new mothers in slum communities. However regardless of whether new funds are acquired or not, DGS is working with other NGOs, hospitals and medical organisations to create a dissemination plan and to ensure continued follow-up with the women enrolled in the programme.

During the evaluation of the project here in Pune, Deep Griha were congratulated on their running of the project, and were informed that the way the project was run here would be used as a blue print to set up other similar projects across India, in locations such as Solapur and Bihar. This was great feedback to receive after the hard work of all of those involved in implementing the project.

There were many different aspects to the Sure Start project here in Pune. Sure Start ran trainings to educate fieldworkers on maternal health issues, so they could carry out home visits and speak to residents in the three slum areas and encourage women to join the programme. Deep Griha also held Monitoring of Maternal and Newborn Health Status (MOMS) training programmes on health and finance issues at all 3 DGS centres. As a result of these trainings ten local MOMS committees have been established across all three communities. In addition to this, awareness programmes and street plays were used to spread knowledge about the issues of maternal health and neonatal mortality across Pune; mother-in-law and husband meetings were also held to stress the importance of maternal health, for example making sure expectant mothers attend antenatal classes and clinics, and the importance of giving birth in a safe and clean environment. Similar such meetings were also arranged for expectant mothers where they were encouraged to attend antenatal clinics, to give birth in a hospital (a service which is available free of charge, although many were not aware of this); neo-natal care and follow up visits were also arranged for them. In addition to these the project also converged with DISHA (Deep Griha’s Integrated service for HIV and AIDS) to run HIV testing with expectant mothers.

To enable these services to reach those eligible, over the course of four years more than 20,000 home visits were carried out. Out of these more than 19,000 women were enrolled in the programme, and 90% or more of them gave birth in a hospital.

This project was very successful and it is hoped that Deep Griha will secure funding to be able to continue this important work with expectant and new mothers in the 3 slum communities. Deep Griha looks forward to similar Sure Start projects beginning in many other parts of India, which will contribute greatly towards improving maternal and new born health across the country and make the achievement of MDG 5 a reality.

MNH Awerness program

Category: Medical and healthcare

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