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Times Of India Examines How Female Health Volunteers Are Improving Maternal, Child Health In India

“In many parts of India, teenagers and housewives are now donning the garb of health volunteers and convincing pregnant women to deliver in hospitals, and not at homes,” the Times of India reports, and profiles Lata Ravikar, “one of the many ordinary women who are leading a silent revolution in urban slums and villages across the country.” The news service writes, “The invisible hand of these women” — called didis — “has already improved maternal and child health indicators, according to a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded initiative that has tracked their impact in two states,” noting, “In Maharashtra, for instance, the proportion of hospital deliveries has gone up from 78 percent to 88 percent in four years in the communities where these workers have been active.”

“But India needs more didis. And the government needs to give them more resources — they form the backbone of community-based health care — to save the public health care system, which always looks like it is on the verge of crumbling,” the news service continues. “‘Mentoring and training these workers could yield multiple benefits as they change attitudes and behaviors from within communities,’ says [Sita Shankar of PATH],” according to Times of India (Rajadhyaksha, 4/8).