Posted by: davidjolson | 11/19/2010

Global “Indian” Strategy for Women’s, Children’s Health

The writer is Smita Baruah, the director of Government Relations of the Global Health Council.

NEW DELHI, India — The Global Health Council wasted no time in fostering discussions on how to nationalize the U.N. Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health to the Indian context. On Tuesday, about 50 individuals representing the “social sector” (the Indian term for NGOs), multilaterals and the private sector gathered in a room here to discuss how they can collectively help India reach its goals outlined in its September 2010 Maternal and Child Health Strategy.

The meeting, “A Call to Action: Supporting India’s Commitment to the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health,” brought together our members and partners and was organized by the Global Health Council, CEDPA, USAID’s Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program and MCH Star.  It followed last week’s Partners Forum for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health described in my previous blog post.

So what is the “Indian” version of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health? The Indian government is already ahead of the game. It has outlined key elements — focusing on the poorest districts where they will work on improving quality of services, training of health professionals (particularly around management), improving communications and capacity building. India has the financial resources and the infrastructure.

So what’s missing? A lack of trained human resources, commodity stockouts, good quality data (especially for informing decision-making), accountability and gaps in access to basic services by the poor, particularly in tribal areas, to name a few.

One speaker also noted that there is an “implementation bottleneck.”

What’s needed? There is a need to develop innovative approaches, partnerships and access strategies to extend reach of healthcare to those who otherwise do not have access.

What can be done? To help foster partnerships and innovative strategies, one panelist suggested establishing a multisectoral task force supported by the Indian government that could serve as a forum for exchanging ideas and fostering increased partnerships.  This idea needs to be considered and implemented as soon as possible. The GHC can help play a role in fostering such a task force.  Perhaps we’ll find ourselves in Delhi again launching this very idea.

We welcome your comments below.


Responses

  1. […] DELHI, India — In the days following the Global Health Council stakeholder meeting on maternal, newborn and child health issues here, the GHC team decided to see how you truly “nationalize” global plans through […]

  2. So what is the uniqueness in these approaches that make them “Indian”? The Indian version is the same as the African version and the same as in the Latin American version and the same as the Eastern European version!

    The key strategy elements outlined in this Indian version — (1) focusing on the poorest districts where they will work on improving quality of services, (2) training of health professionals (particularly around management), (3) improving communications and capacity building — are all very well known approaches for improving health in almost all developing countries, and have been known for decades. Also, the problems with human resources, stockouts etc. are not unique to India.

    Rather than changing the label on the outside, and calling it some kind of a new version, perhaps India and the GHC partners would better serve the global health community through making some truly useful changes inside the bottle.

    For starters, how about India exploring within its own borders and scaling up to state and national levels some time tested innovative changes that are being made in places like Jamkhed with the Aroles, and implementing strategies such as the “Gadchiroli Model” that the Bangs introduced. Now, THAT would truly be an Indian version leading the global health efforts around the world.


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