"As societies build walls of separation between communities,
ICAAD works to remove each brick to illuminate our common humanity"

No Time to Lose: Adivasi Women Demand Accountable Health System

Nazdeek, PAJHRA and ICAAD announced the release of the report, No Time to Lose: Fighting Maternal and Infant Mortality through Community Reporting. The report brings to light the obstacles that Adivasi women face in obtaining maternal health care in Assam – a state with the highest maternal mortality rate in India.

No Time to Lose is the first attempt in India to collect and map cases of maternal and infant health violations reported by women living in tea gardens through SMS technology. The report is the culmination of the End MM Now Project, which fuses legal empowerment, community monitoring and technology.

Based on nearly 70 cases reported by community members who participated in the Project, the report offers tangible recommendations for Block and District level health authorities and tea garden management to improve service delivery and save mothers’ and infants’ lives.

“For the first time, civil society in Assam can rely on solid data on the lack of access to maternal health services. Thanks to this data, we have formulated key recommendations to curb the appalling number of maternal deaths among Adivasi women.” – says Barnabas Kindo, from Pajhra. Key recommendations include the immediate appointment of a hematologist for the Dhekiajuli Community Health Centre, and the establishment of a more efficient referral system.

Assamese womanCommunity members attend a meeting on the End MM Now project

The report has been well received by District authorities in Sonitpur, including Deputy Commissioner, Sonitpur, Shri. Lalit Gogoi, District Joint Health Services Director, NHM Sonitpur, Dr. M. H. Saikia and Medical Inspector of Plantations, Dr. P.K. Lahkar. In a meeting with Project participants on Tuesday February 17th, Shri. Gogoi praised the initiative and promised to submit the findings and recommendations of the Report to higher-level authorities. Dr. Lakhar further stressed that lack of adequate infrastructure in the tea gardens was a major barrier in accessing health services.

No Time to Lose identified a significant gap between patients and healthcare providers. In this regard, Dr. Saikia committed to establishing a Citizens Grievance Forum at the Block level to address maternal health violations reported through the End MM Now system, with time-bound action from the state. “End MM Now has proven to be an invaluable platform for women to monitor and claim access to basic rights and entitlements. Community members have already noted initial positive changes in the delivery of health services”, says Francesca Feruglio, from Nazdeek.

“Shaped by the idea of crowdsourcing, End MM Now maps and visualizes ground-level data, which is verified and made available to the public and the government. This way, the platform bridges an existing information gap and increases transparency in the delivery of health services,” says Jaspreet K. Singh, from ICAAD.

project participantsProject participants with the report on release

Background on the project:
The state of Assam leads the country with the highest maternal mortality ratio (MMR), and one of the highest infant mortality ratios (IMR) in India. These health indicators persist despite the right to safe motherhood protected by the Indian Constitution and guaranteed under national laws and policies. The lack of data on the Adivasi community makes it particularly difficult to address some of the gaps in the implementation of maternal and infant health policies.

For this reason, Nazdeek, PAJHRA and ICAAD have developed the Project “End Maternal Mortality Now” (End MM Now). Launched in April 2014, the Project trained a group of 40 women volunteers living in Balipara and Dhekiajuli Blocks in the Sonitpur District of Assam to identify and report cases of health violations in their communities through SMS.

The project has been implemented with the generous support of ISIF Asia.

For further information please contact:

Delhi:
Sukti Dhital, Executive Director, Nazdeek
+91-8130119657 | suktidhital @ nazdeek.org

Assam:
Barnabas Kindo, Deputy Director, Pajhra
+91-9613720194 | b4kindo2011 @ gmail.com

U.S.:
Jaspreet K. Singh, Director of Policy and Advocacy, ICAAD
+01-4043199988 | jaspreet @ icaadglobal.org

Or visit: endmmnow.org

Read the report:

 

#RaiseYourShield

This Civil Rights and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we’d like to challenge you to reflect on how fear may have influenced your opinions, especially of others, and to take a step towards the courage to overcome those fears. Why the focus on fear you might ask?

Famed marketer and author Simon Sinek in his book “Start with Why” outlines six typical manipulations used in sales and marketing, one of which is the use of fear. On fear, Sinek says, “When fear is being employed, facts are incidental. Deeply seated in our biological drive to survive, that emotion cannot be quickly wiped away with facts and figures.”

In the current political atmosphere, in the U.S. and around the globe, fear is often used by politicians and campaigners to polarize debates and to demonize marginalized communities, using them as scapegoats for the real economic, social, and political challenges that societies face.

Martin Luther King, Jr. understood how important fear is, so much so that he gave a sermon on it named “Antidotes for Fear.” It’s worth reading in its entirety, especially because it recognizes the importance, necessity, and creativity of fear (kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/draft-chapter-xiv-mastery-fear-or-antidotes-fear). However, particularly pertinent section was highlighted by King’s wife Coretta Scott King in her book “My life with Martin Luther King, Jr”:

“First Martin spoke of the many kinds of fear that troubled men and women in this period of change and "calamitous uncertainty"— fear of illness or economic disaster, fear of personal inadequacy in our highly competitive society. More terrible was the fear of death, even racial annihilation, in this atomic age, when the whole world teetered on "a balance of terror . . . fearful lest some diplomatic faux pas ignite a frightful holocaust."

"Some fears are normal and necessary," he said, like the fear of snakes in a jungle, but when they become neurotic and unchecked, they paralyze the will and reduce a man to apathy or despair. He quoted Emerson, who wrote, "He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear."

How, then, to overcome fear? First, Martin said, "We must un-flinchingly face our fears . . . this confrontation will, to some measure, grant us power. . . . "Second, we can master fear through one of the supreme virtues known to man— courage . . . courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear.”"

MLK Coretta Scott King Simon Sinek
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