Active community involvement to ensure quality healthcare

Active community involvement to ensure quality healthcare

  • Health
  • By Santosh Kumar Patra
  • 25 Aug, 2020

Changing her name after marriage came at a huge cost for 24-year-old Jhumuri Behera from Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district. Her Aadhaar card carried her maiden name while the government maternity benefit scheme card carried her marital name. The bank officials refused to open her account and Jhumuri was denied the maternity care funds she was entitled to receive under the state’s Mamata scheme.

And this is not just about Jhumuri. There are many women who get left out of the scheme and subsequently healthcare because of various reasons. Had it not been for Oxfam India’s intervention and active involvement of the community, Jhumuri and many others like her would have been denied access to quality healthcare.

Under the Mamata scheme, the Odisha state government provides a certain amount of money to pregnant and lactating mothers from economically weaker sections so they and their babies can seek proper healthcare and nutritious food. The main objective of this scheme is to compensate for wages which women lose during and after pregnancy. This is a relief for many women who are not able to take rest during their pregnancy with fear of losing their income. However, the funds have been slow to reach all the target women.

Oxfam India works with communities in Mayurbhanj district to ensure that they have access to good quality healthcare. It was during some of the meetings (to monitor the healthcare services in the village) held by Oxfam India and its on ground partners that they found that there were many like Jhumuri who did not receive their funds under the Mamata scheme because of the change in their marital names. The banks refused to open their accounts and the Anganwadi Workers (AWW) and the Lady Supervisor (LS) (District Social Welfare Officers supervising Anganwadi Centres), who are responsible for facilitating the process, also did not support any of these women.

It was important that the women collectives (which were formed earlier by Oxfam India to monitor the implementation of government schemes), were trained on this front as well so that they were not deprived of their rights. They were trained and also supported by Oxfam India and the on ground partner to take up the issue with the Child Development Project Officer (CDPO) and the bank officials. They urged the officer to visit their villages and record the problems women were facing in accessing maternity care.

Eventually, the project officer took action and ensured that the bank opened the women’s bank accounts irrespective of the change in name. The Anganwadi Worker and Lady Supervisor were also instructed to notify the banks of any name change immediately after a woman registers her pregnancy.

With Oxfam India’s support, almost 3000 women and 3000 men across Koraput and Mayurbhanj district managed to get access to healthcare. Almost 5 lakh women and 5 lakh men across Odisha benefitted through our advocacy and campaigning efforts. After our work, immunization and Mamata Divas activities are regularised.

What We Do

Oxfam India, with its grassroots partners raise awareness among community members of their right to healthcare and available government schemes. This community-based monitoring system empowers people so they can demand their rights on their own.

In 2018-19, Oxfam India and its partners also created a People’s Manifesto, to demand free and quality public healthcare in Odisha. The manifesto was shared with political parties at both legislative and parliamentary levels ahead of the state and the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. Oxfam India also prepared a working paper shedding light on health inequalities in Odisha and held discussions with key policymakers.

Oxfam India continues to work with both the policymakers as well the communities to advocate for quality healthcare facilities for each individual, so that no one is discriminated against on the basis of their socio-economic background.

Support us to ensure free and quality healthcare for all.

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