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Understanding What Indian Women Want from Maternal Health Services

Aug 21, 2012

Understanding women’s level of satisfaction with the health services is critical for improving the quality of service, says a study by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) in collaboration with the UK-based London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Aberdeen.

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Globally, one in five women who die during childbirth is from India, as per the latest statistics from the World Health Organization. To reduce the burden of maternal deaths, Government of India introduced the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) scheme in 2005, in which women were assured a sum of INR 1400 if they came to institutions for delivery.

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The scheme has been successful in attracting women to facilities for delivery, leading to expansion in proportion of institutional deliveries in India from 53% of all deliveries in 2005 to 73% in 2009-10, as per UNICEF statistics. Though the scheme has attracted large numbers of women to institutions for delivery, the question remains as to whether they are really getting the care that they want. It is also important to know how this compares with the care received by women who deliver at home.

To find answers to these questions, a study was conducted by Public Health Foundation of India, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK and University of Aberdeen, UK. The project was funded by the USAID supported MCH-STAR initiative. The study explored what women really valued when seeking delivery related care, and what was their current status of satisfaction with care in the context of JSY program.

"Unless we know what are the aspects of care that a woman wants during delivery we cannot improve the services that meet her level of satisfaction. The current study tries to identify those aspects of care and also what are the factors she considers when she decides where she will deliver- at home or in an institution" , says Dr. Sanghita Bhattacharyya, Senior Public Health Specialist at PHFI, who led the study.

The study was conducted among 500 recently delivered women in the state of Jharkhand, where more than half of the deliveries are still conducted at home. 95% of women surveyed belonged to the vulnerable groups of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Caste categories. Almost 85% women belonged to households with monthly income levels of INR 5000 or less. More than half (53%) were illiterate.

Click here to download the report

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