While global maternal deaths have declined in the past two decades, a woman dies of pregnancy-related complications every two minutes. No country bears the burden like India which continues to lead the world in maternal mortality, currently comprising nearly 20% of all maternal deaths worldwide.
One year ago, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs (JHU∙CCP) responded to an urgent request from UNICEF to help address this issue in one state in India.
A unique process of evidence-gathering, stakeholder involvement, participatory meetings and design workshops implemented in partnership between CCP, UNICEF, the National Rural Health Mission, the Department of Health and Family Welfare in Andhra Pradesh and the Indian Institute of Health and Family Welfare resulted in a social and behavior change communication (SBCC) strategy to reduce maternal and child mortality in the state of Andhra Pradesh by improving quality and access to health care.
In June 2012, the government in Andhra Pradesh launched CCP’s multi-pronged SBCC strategy and capacity building and organization change program, Amma Kongu.
Amma Kongu, meaning mother’s pallu (a pallu is a part of Indian women’s attire that helps provide protection and care to children), describes the role the Department of Health and Family Welfare seeks to play in program implementation – as a provider of protection and care to vulnerable mothers in Andhra Pradesh.
Amma Kongu asks:
A mother cares for and protects her child…always
Who will care for and protect the mother?
The Department of Health and Family Welfare was eager to launch the program. “Amidst a thriving economy, the high burden of maternal mortality has persisted. A creative, collaborative intervention to improve the health of our mothers and children was past due,” said K R Kishore, principal secretary of the Department.
The Department of Health and Family Welfare reported that Amma Kongu, strategically designed by CCP to increase demand for and utilization of maternal health care, is the first of its kind in Andhra Pradesh and in India.
Amma Kongu uses a continuum of care approach to address maternal mortality and communication channels, including mass media, satellite television, newsletters and special events, to reach its target audience. It will promote pregnancy registration, immunization, antenatal and postnatal care, institutional delivery, nutrition, breastfeeding and the prevention of child marriage. The program will target “moments of truth” in the health behavior change process, defined as the interaction between a health department provider and a client, and will seek to ensure that all such interactions are positive and effective.
Recent articles in The Times of India and The Hindu provide additional information about Amma Kongu.
Learn about CCP’s activities in India.