172364 Improving the health conditions of women in the Thar Desert, India

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Prakash Tyagi, MD , Head Office, GRAVIS, Jodhpur, India
Community health care has always been an issue of major concern in the arid and drought-impacted region of Thar Desert in India. Feudal society, poor socio-economic status of women and prevalence of social evils have been predominant features of the rural communities in region over a long time. Women need to go through a sever drugdery everday due to water scarcity and lack of sanitation facilities. There is a severe lack of health education and health facilities are almost non-existent. The above has resulted into widespread neglect of women's health resulting in high pregnancy rate, high miscarriage rate, premature infant death, high risk of mortality & morbidity during labour and prevalence of infectious and chronic diseases among women. The state of girl children's health is particularly vulnerable in the region. GRAVIS has been focusing on the development of the region since last 24 years with a special focus on improving the health of women. It is running a number of community based projects focusing on improving the status of reproductive health. A cadre of over 500 CHWs developed by GRAVIS is strongly committed to provide health education, maternity services, referrals and nutritional support to women. The women of the region have been mobilized through formation of Self Help Groups, who are saving money in mutual health funds to be used for medical needs. GRAVIS health team has developed a set of training materials and a resource team for organization of training session. Strong focus has been put on health education among adolescent girls. Further, a secondary level hospital with 60 beds has been set in a remote setting. Due to the efforts made over the last two decades, the health seeking behaviour among women has increased up to 40%, the infant and maternal mortality rates have gone down up to 22% and there is a 40% increase in the institutional birth deliveries. With growing capacity at the local level, the sustainability of the initiatives is ensured to a great extent. In future, GRAVIS wishes to extend the programme by passing on the knowledge and expertise to other NGOs working in the region.

Learning Objectives:
- Share the health problems of women living in the Thar Desert, India - Disseminate the work being by GRAVIS for the health of women - Generate suggestions for sustainability - Networking with individuals and agencies

Keywords: Women's Health, Community Programs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am directly involved with the implementation of the above programme.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.