Presentation at the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference, October 21, 2015
Rajasthan, India is among the high focus states of India with high maternal and neonatal mortality. Rajasthan White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood -SUMA was initiated by CHETNA for awareness, action and advocacy for reduction of maternal neonatal mortality in the state. During 2014, SUMA implemented social accountability efforts for maternal health with support from the White Ribbon Alliance, India. Members of the village and facility based committees in 70 villages and 45 facilities across 11 blocks of the state were oriented to assess maternal health services using simple checklists, findings from the assessment were captured in Citizens’ report cards highlighting the strengths and limitations. Women leaders demanded action for strengthening health services through participation in public dialogues and constitutionally mandated spaces -Gram Sabhas. More than 100 members of the village and facility based committees were oriented on their responsibilities to take action for improving maternal health services delivery. A participatory external evaluation indicated significant changes at the organizational. community and facility levels. For the first time maternal health has been included in the agenda of the Gram Sabha and 44 resolutions have been passed’ funds have been allocated to build labour rooms; vacant posts have been filled up. At the social level, for the first time women have accessed local level public spaces to press their demands for improved maternal health services. This initiative affirms the need for investment in empowering communities and the fact that if supported with accountability tools, communities demand for maternal health accountability leads to significant changes in health services.