Maternal Health in India

Despite numerous social welfare organizations fighting for the cause, maternal health in India still needs major improvements. Quality aspects in maternal health care have long been ignored by the Indian public health system. Most women in the rural areas of India  either do not have proper access to healthcare or are unaware of what to do during a pregnancy. A research study published by Princeton University asserts that more than 40% of Indian women are underweight when they begin their pregnancy. So from the start, women are headed toward an unhealthy pregnancy. The results of this research study highlight the need for government intervention in terms of maternal health monitoring.

It is not the lack of access to medicinal support, but because of the influences of a patriarchal society that maternal health is difficult in India. The status of a woman in India is much worse than in any other county. Because most women in rural areas are married off at a young age, they are likely to become pregnant soon after marriage and expected to keep quiet, work hard and eat little. The lack of respect for women in Indian society is a glaring telltale for the cause of this problem.

Not only do these women have a low status, but they also all live in a disease-filled environment. 70% of rural Indian households defecate in the open, a practice that is bound to multiply intestinal diseases and parasites. Though certain mental health programs are trying to alleviate the problem by distributing free food in impoverished areas and offering cash incentives for hospital deliveries, the problem cannot be solved until the focus is shifted toward increasing weight during pregnancy.

The gravity of the situation is recognized by Every Mother Counts, a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. They are active in informing, engaging and mobilizing new audiences to take action and raise funds that support maternal health programs around the world. To support this cause, the Indian Club at Chapman University recently teamed up with Be Better Movement.

On Thursdays, April 27th and May 4th, Chapman University’s Indian Club set up a table in the Attallah Piazza with a goal in mind. Offering free Henna tattoos and playing Indian music, club members rallied to increase awareness and to voice a call to action. They urged passersby to subscribe to the Be Better Movement in support of increasing maternal care in exchange for a free henna tattoo. The club received many interested people who were willing to engage, some because they wanted to get a henna tattoo and others because they wanted to support the cause. Ultimately, the publicity for Be Better Movement brought successful results and we are closer to making the world a safer place for mothers and their babies.