Reproductive and Child Health Awareness

In 2008, our development department concluded the project, "Reproductive and Child Health Awareness in Four Villages of the Chirigaon Block of Varanasi District, Uttar Pradesh." Aimed at raising awareness on reproductive and child health, the project took place in the villages of Mokalpur, Mustafabad, Amba and Chhitauni and ran from May 2007 to April 2008. India’s high maternal mortality rate (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR) provided the incentive for this project. In order to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates, women and girls must receive education on the health care facilities available to them, and general social awareness must be raised on the importance of reproductive and child health, especially prenatal and antenatal care. This project targeted adolescent girls aged 12-28, married women aged 19-30 and the families of both groups, with a special focus placed on girls with limited education and hailing from marginalized sectors of society.

Project objectives included:

  1. Enhancing the knowledge of adolescent girls and their families on reproductive and child health
  2. Fostering a gender-just environment to enable women in decision-making, especially regarding personal health-related issues
  3. Improving women's access to health services
Three batches of 30 women and 30 girls were selected for participation in each village, culminating in a total of 700 participants. Women and girls met two times a month in kishori kendras, where they could discuss their problems, share their experiences and try to find solutions to local issues. In the long term, these meetings generated a sense of belonging and togetherness, instilling a sense of confidence within the participants. The groups also engaged in classes on reproductive and child health, which covered topics such as the importance of registering pregnancies, how to eat a balanced diet and where and when to immunize children. Throughout the community, self-sustaining community watch groups monitored and supported pregnant women, while awareness generating activities such as painting competitions and video screenings took place regularly.

In each stage of the project, face-to-face contact in all four of the villages provided the opportunity to offer continual encouragement and support to women as they made crucial reproductive decisions, as well as allaying their fears and anxieties. Working one-on-one with women allowed the CSR team unique insight into the difficulties in or barriers to accessing prenatal care. Overall, the project’s greatest success have been evidenced in the outstanding number of women reached through relatively small-scale grassroots activities, and the number of women who during the course of the project chose to receive health care and services during and after their pregnancies.

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