Sulochana Pednekar | October 2015
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Presentation at the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference, October 21, 2015

Background: India accounts for the highest number of maternal deaths (289000 in 2013) globally. Despite this, the coverage of this fact has been scant. Now that the uproar after the sterilization deaths in Chhattisgarh (an East Indian state) has died down, the condition of mothers and newborns in India has gone off the radar again. Video Volunteers, a human rights NGO with the support and partnership of Oxfam India, has launched a project on maternal health reporting.

Methodology: Video volunteers with Oxfam India, has started a project on Community Monitoring of Maternal Health in India to report the violations , produce stories , take action and devise solutions to improve the state of maternal healthcare in India. Video volunteers has its network of over 180 community journalists from marginalized communities.

Results: Since 2010, about 35 reports done till date by video volunteers on maternal health issues, including on lack of services for deliveries at night; lack of ambulances in villages; women not being provided medical care at hospitals right after delivery; and the absence of Auxilliary Nurse Midwives or doctors at health centers. Community correspondent, from Rajasthan (a Northwest Indian state) through her reporting was successful in bringing about change in her area by providing adequate supply of Iron tablets to pregnant mothers.

Conclusion: Community media can play a very important role in monitoring the maternal health through the reporting of these stories, community correspondents have been successfully preventing maternal deaths from taking place in their remote villages. The key to preventing these deaths lies in our villages where one needs to make sure that fellow villagers get the services and entitlements they deserve, community correspondents can get great Auxiliary Nurse Midwives working at the villages, and can make Block and District level hospitals deliver the services.