Ensuring safe childbirth among tribal women in Jharkhand

A nonprofit, Transform Rural India Foundation, is working with hundreds of thousands villagers in Ranchi and Simdega districts of Jharkhand to familiarise them with various government health schemes for pregnant and lactating mothers, including free institutional delivery.

Manoj ChoudharyManoj Choudhary   18 Jan 2023 11:51 AM GMT

Ensuring safe childbirth among tribal women in Jharkhand

Rural residents of Burhibera and other 107 villages in Ranchi and Simdega districts are now aware about their rights and the government's health schemes. Photos by Manoj Choudhary 

Burhibera (Ranchi), Jharkhand

Till two years ago, pregnant women in Burhibera village gave birth at home. The adivasi and other women of this predominantly tribal village in Chatra panchayat of Angara block in Ranchi district were not aware of the health schemes offered by the central and the state government, including free institutional deliveries at government hospitals.

Despite several risks, the dai (midwife) delivered babies at home, and pregnant or lactating women rarely visited the community health centre (CHC) for regular checkups.

The situation took a turn when members of a non-profit organisation, Transform Rural India Foundation (TRIF), started to visit villages in Ranchi and Simdega districts to inform and educate the tribal inhabitants about the health schemes they could avail of. They also trained village women, who came to be known as Badlaav Didi, to create further awareness in the villages.

Jamuni Oraon, a resident of Burhibera with a population of 679 people, is a Badlaav Didi. She became a mother in 2015 but due to lack of information about health schemes during pre and post-delivery, she could not avail any benefits. But after associating with TRIF in December 2020 in Chatra panchayat, Jamuni is now aware of all health schemes for pregnant and lactating mothers. She makes people aware about free vaccination for pregnant women, availability of nutritious food for young children and pregnant women, and monetary benefits for institutional delivery.

The nonprofit has ensured health scheme benefits to about 170, 000 people

Kunti Devi, an ANM (Auxiliary Nurse and Midwife) in Chatra panchayat, told Gaon Connection that at present 30 children and 13 women were enrolled at the Burhibera anganwadi centre. “Earlier due to lack of awareness, women delivered babies at home but now the situation has changed,” she said.

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“The central and state governments run various schemes for pregnant women such as Janani Suraksha Yojna under which Rs 1,400 is given to the woman after an institutional delivery,” Saloni Kumari, a community mobiliser with TRIF who works in Hesal and Bongaibeda panchyats, told Gaon Connection. There is also the Mamta Vahan that offers free ambulance service; Pradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojna which provides mothers Rs 5,000 in three instalments to promote vaccination and institutional delivery, she added.

Rural residents of Burhibera and other 107 villages in Ranchi and Simdega districts are now aware about their rights and the government's health schemes, the community mobiliser said.

“Earlier women rarely participated in gram sabhas and never thought to ask for health services. But, as a consequence of the awareness drives, since January 2021, they have begun to seek health facilities. They are also demanding the implementation of Jharkhand Mukhyamantri Ladli Laxmi Yojana for proper upbringing and academic facilities to village girls,” Saloni Kumari added.

Women now participate in gram sabhas and voice their opinion on important issues.

Also Read: Training in cultivation and animal husbandry empowers Birhor tribal women in Jharkhand

Changing health scenario

Sangita Kujur of Burhibera village is a beneficiary of the government's health scheme for pregnant women. She made use of the free ambulance facility and delivered her baby at Sadar Hospital Ranchi in 2021. She also received monetary benefits along with nutritious food and free regular checkup at the anganwadi centre.

Talking to Gaon Connection, Sangita Kujur said that when she was in labour, she informed Saloni Kumari, the then Panchayat Health Facilitator (PHF) with TRIF in Chatra. Saloni ensured that Sangita not only got the ambulance on time but also delivered her baby safely.

“I delivered my baby at a government hospital free of cost. My life along with my child’s life would have been in danger had I gone for a home birth,” Sangita Kujur said.

“After my delivery, other women have also now begun to take the benefits of government schemes, they were ignorant of before that. Mahima Lakra, Nilmani Kumari and Alian Soni Lakra are some of the other women, who delivered safely at the government hospital,” she added.

ANM Kunti Devi said that panchayat women are now coming for free monthly medical checkup camps at CHC and regular vaccination at the anganwadi centre. “The staff at the anganwadi centre ensures the best health facilities to village women who are so much more conscious about their health,” the ANM said.

The situation took a turn when TRIF started to visit villages in Ranchi and Simdega districts to inform and educate the tribal inhabitants about the health schemes they could avail of.

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Improvement in anganwadi centres

Saloni Kumari, who first visited Burhibera in December 2020, saw that the building where the anganwadi was located was damaged and lacked water and electricity supply. After the regular interactions with TRIF, the villagers raised the issue at the gram sabha and the anganwadi centre now has both water and electricity supply, and the building has been repaired.

“Jal Minars have been constructed at Chakrabera, Marangbera and other villages in the past two years. Village women are also actively participating in the implementation of various government schemes at the anganwadi centres and community health centres,” Saloni Kumari said.

Block manager of TRIF in Bero block of Ranchi, Md Aquib Jawed said that the nonprofit has ensured health scheme benefits for about 170, 000 people. There are 120,000 beneficiaries from 82 villages under 21 panchayats in Angara block of Ranchi, and around 50,000 beneficiaries from 25 villages in eight panchayats in Kurdeg block of Simdega district.

“Discussions on healthcare issues became an important aspect of gram sabha meetings,” Jawed said.

“We will raise the matter of appointing specialist doctors at CHC in Angara in the next gram sabha, so that we do not have to travel far for specialised healthcare,” Alian Soni Lakra of Burhibera village, told Gaon Connection.

Also Read: Multi-cropping, protected farming, and solar irrigation — Kushal Kisan Scheme transforming the lives of farmers in Jharkhand

This story has been done as part of a partnership with Transform Rural India Foundation.

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