Strengthening Access Of Marginalised Communities To Maternal And Child Health Services

Saranda, the ‘Land of Seven Hundred Hills’ lies at the tri junction of three states- Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh and is covered by the dense Sal forest. The region is inhabited by the tribal population (HO tribes) who reside in the deep forest areas, and are highly marginalised due to their inaccessibility. Infant mortality rates in the region are high, with an abysmally low neonatal survival rate. Overall malnutrition rates in the region are high, and health infrastructure is weak.,/

It was against this background that Phia Foundation in partnership withSociety for Reformation and Advancement of Adivasis (ASRA) began implementing a project to strengthen access to maternal and child health services in the region with support from UNICEF. The aim of the project is to strengthen access of basic maternal and child health services health services to excluded communities in 28 villages in three gram panchayats of Manoharpur block of West Singhbhum district.

Since the initiation of the project from 1 August 2016, Phia Foundation and ASRA have implemented community engagement and community mobilisation activities in the area. A key focus of the activities has been to raise awareness among the communities on the different government programmes and schemes (specifically on maternal and child health), and the communities’ entitlements under the programmes/schemes.

In December 2016, a UNICEF team of comprising of Dr. Rahul Kapse, Health Specialist, UNICEF (Jharkhand), and Mr. Anil Kumar, District Consultant, UNICEF visited village Lodo, a project site under Gram Panchayat Chidiya in block Manoharpur in the district. The team had interactions with the community and the challenges and gaps in accessing health care services were highlighted.

UNICEF has promised to provide IEC resources, organise a refresher training for Sahiya and Anganwari workers. Looking at the efforts of Phia foundation and ASRA, UNICEF has expressed their interest in expanding the work on strengthening maternal and child health services to more blocks in the West Singhbhum district.

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