Rights and choices should be the core issues related to women’s health, experts said. “It is high time for women across the world to have access to high quality services,” Pamela Barnes, CEO of Engender Health, a non governmental organisation (NGO) working with gender issues had said. Access to quality family planning services can reduce maternal mortality, she said adding male involvement was necessary for successful family planning.
India has a maternal mortality rate of 178 per 1,00,000 live births and this implies 120 women die from pregnancy related problems every day. “Quality of care is one of the key components for greater acceptance of family planning in developing countries. When women are able to plan, they are more likely to survive childbirth and have healthier babies. Also, they can continue studies and earn more,” Barnes said.
According to Madhubala Nath, country director of Engender Health, it was important that attitudes of the service providers are addressed to counter cultural barriers. “Unlearning has to be done before learning and it has to work simultaneously. Far too many programmes skip the counselling part,” she said.
Engender Health is partnering with the state governments of Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, to build standards for informed consent, clinical safety, infection prevention, and other aspects of quality service delivery. It is also engaging with the state governments in Bihar and Rajasthan to develop a road map for adolescent health.