According to UNICEF, nearly a quarter of all maternal deaths worldwide occur in India. Their babies are far more likely to die in the first two years of life than babies whose mothers survive. Less than half of mothers deliver their children in hospitals or other healthy environments. For women in remote, isolated villages, access to – and knowledge about – care can be a matter of survival.
Designed to reduce maternal and child mortality in rural, impoverished areas, the Maternal and Newborn Survival Initiative (MANSI) utilizes a public-private partnership model to provide the resources and support required to empower local communities to care for their mothers and children while improving the local health system. MANSI provides preventative and curative care for both mothers and newborns all the way from the individual household to government health facilities to ensure new mothers and infants have the care they need to prepare for, survive, and thrive during and after pregnancy.
MANSI’s focus region is the landlocked state of Jharkhand, where dense forests and hillsides insulate agricultural villages from access to healthcare facilities and contribute to India’s second highest maternal and infant mortality rates. More than 280,000 children under the age of 6 have been born over the last decade. In the Seraikela-Kharsawan district, one of the poorest districts of Jharkhand, many villagers must travel arduous distances of up to ten miles for healthcare, leading to a widespread practice of home deliveries that deny basic and essential care needed to ensure a healthy start to life.
“I will save each and every child of my village so that there is not a single helpless mother in the village like me who can do nothing but wait and watch her child collapse in front of her. It will be my tribute to my first child.”
— Champa Manjhi, Community Health Worker, Jankipur, Jharkhand
The project equips villages with a trained community health worker (Sahiya) to provide home-based care, strengthening individual and family knowledge to promote positive health behaviors while building capacity for whole communities to provide peer-based care through an innovative surveillance system to create an innovative model for community- and home-based care. Through this system, timely referrals and emergency care during pregnancy ensure that mothers get qualified care when they most need it, improving access to and utilization of public and private healthcare services. By promoting social cohesion through mobilizing communities for collective action and increasing healthy deliveries in institutional settings by leveraging a government maternity incentive scheme, AIF is instituting a system for sustainability at all levels for the community and local Health Ministry to uphold over the long term.