By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, February 18: Assam has emerged the state with highest materl and infant mortality rates in the country, and the worst affected in the state are Adivasi women. This statement came today from three NGOs that conducted a survey on materl and infant mortality rates among the Adivasi women in Sonitpur district of the state.
The three NGOs - zdeek from Delhi, Pajhra from Assam and ICAAD from the US - released a book comprising what they found during their survey, at a press meet in Guwahati today. They said materl and infant mortality are grievous among the Adisis, who are illiterate and hence ignorant what types of treatment need to be taken when they fall ill. "Their problems are complicated by the lack of caring attitude shown to them by health staff," they said, and added: "The report brings to light the obstacles that Adivasi women face in obtaining materl health care in Assam - a state with the highest materl mortality rate in India."
They said: "This is the first attempt in India to collect and map cases of materl and infant health violations reported by women living in tea gardens through SMS technology. The report is the culmition of the End MM Now Project, which fuses legal empowerment, community monitoring and technology."
"For the first time, civil society in Assam can rely on solid data on the lack of access to materl health services. Thanks to this data, we have formulated key recommendations to curb the appalling number of materl deaths among Adivasi women," said Barbas Kindo, deputy director of Pajhra.
The report has been well received by district authorities in Sonitpur, including Deputy Commissioner, district joint health services director, NHM Lalit Gogoi, and medical inspector of plantations Dr. MH Saikia, Dr. P.K. Lahkar.
Dr. Saikia committed to establishing a citizens grievance forum at the block level to address materl health violations reported through the 'End MM Now system', with time-bound action from the state, they said. "End MM Now has proven to be an invaluable platform for women to monitor and claim access to basic rights and entitlements. Community members have already noted initial positive changes in the delivery of health services," said zdeek executive director Sukti Dhital.
"Shaped by the idea of crowdsourcing, End MM Now maps and visualizes ground-level data, which is verified and made available to the public and the government. This way, the platform bridges an existing information gap and increases transparency in the delivery of health services," they said.
According to the three NGOs, Assam leads the country with the highest materl mortality ratio (MMR), and one of the highest infant mortality ratios (IMR) in India. These health indicators, they say, persist despite the right to safe motherhood protected by the Indian Constitution and guaranteed under tiol laws and policies.