National / World

Mobilizing community support key to good maternal and child health

New Delhi, April 10 (IANS): Engaging in a dialogue with policymakers, mobilising public and community support and stimulating positive behaviour are key to ensuring proper maternal and child health, experts said on Friday.

To focus countrywide attention on the issue of safe motherhood and the importance of citizens' participation to achieve that, a group of civil society organisations appealed to citizens and various governments and NGOs to actively engage and work out an action plan to address the health of women and children in India.

The White Ribbon Alliance is working with World Vision International, Save the Children and many other partners to organise national and district level citizens' hearings in at least 30 countries in the first half of 2015.

"Through this campaign, we want to send out the message that every woman has a right to live and survive pregnancy and childbirth, and that citizens' engagement can go a long way to help the goals," Aparajita Gogoi, the national coordinator, White Ribbon Alliance India, said.

Yamini Mishra from UN women said: "We need to ensure that citizen partnership is not gender neutral and women get adequate representation".

"It is important to ask whether women's voices have been heard. The gender agenda has to have a political voice," she said.

Activist Smita Bajpai of NGO Chetna said: "There needs to be greater investment in strengthening and empowering citizens."

"We also need tools which are simple and ready to use and should be in place to ensure better maternal and child care," she added.

For Bijit Roy of the Population Foundation of India, it was important to give a platform to the community to interact with the health system for ensuring this.

"There is a scarcity of skilled people in the system. All these need to be discussed," he said.

The government had declared April 11 as the National Safe Motherhood Day in 2003.


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