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Integrating Nutrition and Health in Palamu

Location: Palamu

Just as the particularly high infant mortality rates and maternal mortality ratios in rural Jharkhand are a clear indicator of lagging overall health standards in the state's backward and deprived communities, one of the most effective ways to ameliorate the situation there is to focus squarely on improving the health of pregnant and lactating women and their infant children from birth to two years.

In a project spread over five years, CARE partnered with IDF to establish an extensive outreach program to increase the capacity and awareness of community members at all levels regarding the importance of good health and nutrition for young mothers and infants and the obligation of public health providers to deliver mandated benefits and services. Project staff used community meetings, training sessions for volunteers and health workers, information and education materials, and community events to make sure that all members of the target population received the project's twin messages: the need for them both to maintain better health and nutrition and to assert their rights to government health programs and services. A key element in the process was training and motivating the government health workers themselves.

As a result of these efforts throughout the target area, communities began to experience significant improvements due to behavioral changes at all levels. Health care providers who had benefited from effective training began to keep track of clients and make sure they all received appropriate food, supplements, and immunizations. And recipients now understood the health and nutrition services to which they were entitled and, most important, how to insist on receiving these benefits. They also realized the preventive value of adopting good health, nutrition, and hygiene practices on their own. Although gaps in the system remain, the project's impact has proved sustainable and lasting.

Click here for the project report (pdf).