Home to 1 billion people, half of India’s population consists of young people under age 25. Today, vast numbers of women in India face barriers to accessing quality reproductive health care.
Since 1988, EngenderHealth has helped expand and improve reproductive and maternal health services for women, men, and adolescents throughout many regions in India. In response to high rates of early marriage and early childbearing, some of our recent work focuses on ensuring that reproductive health services are youth-friendly and that adolescents are aware of the services available to them. In partnership with state governments, EngenderHealth works in all districts of Jharkhand and has also begun work in Bihar. In Jharkhand, nearly two-thirds of adolescent girls are married before they are 18, and at least one in four young women aged 15–19 is a mother. Our work in India helps advance sexual and reproductive health for adolescents, providing them with the information and services they need to make smart decisions that will positively affect themselves, their future families, and their communities.
Addressing HIV and AIDS
Along the coast of Andhra Pradesh and in Karnataka, where the burden of India’s HIV epidemic is the greatest, EngenderHealth participated in “Samastha,” an integrated HIV and AIDS prevention, care, support, and treatment initiative funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Through Samastha, EngenderHealth improved the care, support, and treatment of people living with HIV by:
- Integrating HIV and tuberculosis services to make health care more accessible
- Supporting the growing number of orphans and children affected by HIV and AIDS
- Reducing stigma and discrimination in health care settings. We helped health providers:
- Overcome their fears and biases about people living with HIV
- Implement infection prevention measures
- Meet the needs and rights of people living with HIV
Providing Quality Health Care
EngenderHealth’s innovative approaches to quality improvement help health care providers assess their services, identify shortcomings at their sites, and find effective solutions. In Jharkhand and Uttarakhand states, EngenderHealth collaborated with India’s Ministry of Health to provide simple, low-cost, and practical quality improvement tools that account for clients’ rights and provider needs, encourage counseling and informed choice, and promote infection prevention.
These tools helped in monitoring and evaluating the quality of the family planning, reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health services provided at medical facilities. EngenderHealth also trained local supervisors and program managers to assess the quality of services on a routine basis, track those areas that need improvement, and focus on service quality and client satisfaction.
Expanding Access to No-Scalpel Vasectomy
In the state of Uttar Pradesh, vasectomy prevalence is one-fourth the national rate. And female sterilization exceeds vasectomy by a factor of 90 to 1, even though vasectomy is safer, simpler, less expensive, and equally effective. Through the RESPOND Project, EngenderHealth worked with the local government to raise awareness of and increase access to no-scalpel vasectomy, a minimally invasive technique. Activities included:
- Improving the capacity of local medical colleges to train health staff in no-scalpel vasectomy
- Developing mobile camps where services are provided on special days
- Ensuring clients receive the information and counseling they need
- Dispelling myths and misconceptions about vasectomy among both clients and health care professionals
- Developing posters and other communications media (such as puppet theater and folk drama) to inform men and women of no-scalpel vasectomy
- Training community outreach workers
- Creating video and radio segments to run on state-wide stations to raise awareness
- Advocating for no-scalpel vasectomy to be a key part of the state’s health and family planning strategy