A woman's chance of dying or becoming disabled during pregnancy and childbirth is closely connected to her social and economic status. White Ribbon Alliance India steered the nation-wide campaign 'Hamara Swasthya, Hamari Awaz' in its campaign to understand the women's want for improved maternal health in India.
Reaching out to nearly 1,50,000 women across the country; seeking out their one-top most aspirations in terms of maternal healthcare, 23% women requested for dignity and respect in maternal healthcare. The survey was conducted across 24 states and Union Territories. Women have seen improvement in maternal healthcare over the time and submitted their one wish as being treated in a respectful and dignified manner.
‘Maternal mortality rates reflect disparities between wealthy and poor countries more than any other measure of health.’
The notion of safe motherhood must be expanded beyond the prevention of morbidity or mortality to encompass respect for women's basic human rights, including respect, dignity, choices, and preferences during maternity care. Encouraging and empowering women to express their desire towards a safe maternal healthcare, 32241 women i.e. two out of every 10 women who participated desired for maternal health services imbibed with dignity and respect.
Out of the total 23% women seeking the dignity and respect, 18% women requested for respectful behaviour from the healthcare provider and 11% looked for equality based on religion and caste. 11% sought privacy while four percent requested for confidentiality during check-up and treatment. Seven percent requested for informed choice, counseling and consent.
Nine percent desired for timely admission and less waiting time for bed whereas 15% requested for provision of one bed per woman in the ward. Seven percent also requested for provision for birth companion, whereas five percent asked for one stretcher per woman. Eight percent would like to have fixed visiting hours and availability of visitor's room to ensure privacy while remaining five percent women prioritized no sexual harassment by doctor or staff.
Dr. Aparajita Gogoi, National Coordinator, White Ribbon Alliance India said, "Our aim with Hamara Swashtya, Hamari Awaz was to amplify the voices of countless women to positively impact quality of care. We have been consistently undertaking programs to support the Government's efforts to improve quality of care and maternal healthcare. We have observed that attitudes and behavior of maternal healthcare providers considerably influence service seeking behavior of expecting mothers, which in turn impacts the maternal mortality."
The more women speak about their needs and priorities, the easier it will become for program implementers and policy makers to address their needs.