Maternal Health- Making a Generation Healthy.

“I looked at the bed, the bed that should’ve had my mother peacefully sleep, exhausted from bringing me into this world, it was empty. I did not understand why I had to cry myself to sleep and not have my mother soothe me.” If a baby could talk, this is what you will hear him/her say. Maternal health is a growing concern, especially in India which accounts for a quarter of the world’s maternal deaths. Half of these babies are likely to die within the first two years, unlike children with surviving mothers. Women who deliver in hospitals or healthy environments accounts for less than half of the population. The magnitude of the problem is grave, but one organization is working round the clock to address the problem and make access to healthcare a priority. American India Foundation, through their initiative MANSI (Maternal and Newborn Survival Initiative-http://aif.org/investment-area/public-health/) is making sure that maternal healthcare no longer remains a luxury.

Conceived with the aim of reducing maternal and child mortality, MANSI works to strike a public-private partnership to empower local communities and health organizations to care for mothers and newborns while bringing a change in the system. This initiative works to provide both preventative and post care to enable both mothers and local health organizations to provide the care that mothers and babies need during and after the pregnancy. Their focus in on remotely accessible villages of Jharkhand where the terrain makes it difficult to access healthcare and home-birth is more of a necessity than a choice. This situation denies them basic health care to ensure a safe delivery and health of children afterward. As part of this project, a community health worker(Sahiya) is trained to provide knowledge, and home-based care for those stranded in remote villages with limited access to quality health-care. Creating cohesion between individually trained workers and government health institutions to provide essential maternal health care services has been the backbone of this initiative and its primary focus.

Groundwork is necessary to bring about the change one wants to see, but conversations are equally important. American India Foundation in partnership with Stanford Medicine is organizing a symposium on 14th October 2016 which will bring together leaders from academia, philanthropy, and technology to discuss how community participation and cost-effective innovation can improve maternal health and reduce the mortality rate. The Keynote speakers are Madhuri Dixit- an acclaimed Bollywood actress and a longtime champion of women’s rights, and her husband Dr. Sriram Nene, a doctor par excellence. Join them, as they engage in discussion with other distinguished speakers on one the most plaguing questions, and learn how American India Foundation is working at the grassroots level to bring about change. For more information visit: http://med.stanford.edu/aif.html .

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