With more than one billion people, India is the largest democracy in the world. The country has made significant advances in social and economic development, yet its health sector remains ill-equipped to meet the needs of all people. Demand for health services is increasing, maternal mortality is high, and HIV remains a significant health challenge.
Since 1988, EngenderHealth’s work in India has helped expand and improve family planning, reproductive health, and maternal health services. Today, EngenderHealth works in 10 states, and we focus on:
- Addressing HIV and AIDS
- Collaborating with the government to make reproductive health services youth-friendly
- Improving health care systems through quality assurance techniques
- Expanding access to no-scalpel vasectomy
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 participates 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 improves 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 help 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
Ensuring the Reproductive Health of Youth
In Jharkhand, India, early marriage is common, with 68% of women married before the legal age of 18. These young women have limited or no access to reproductive health information and services, placing them at heightened risk of maternal injury or death and sexually transmitted infections like HIV. The national government developed a strategy to improve the reproductive health of adolescents, and EngenderHealth is working with Jharkhand state’s government to carry out these interventions, partnering with local groups and youth leaders. We are focusing on strengthening the capacity of service providers to provide high quality youth-friendly reproductive health services and of outreach workers to educate communities.
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 collaborates 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 help in monitoring and evaluating the quality of the family planning, reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health services provided at medical facilities. EngenderHealth is also training 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 is working with the local government to raise awareness of and increase access to no-scalpel vasectomy, a minimally invasive technique. Activities include:
- 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