Female disadvantage takes on different forms in India, from economic and social challenges to the less obvious yet critical ones like Sexual and Reproductive Health of Women. By understanding how the initiatives and actions of women influence their lives, their sexual self and their need for care and treatment, Fourth Wave Foundation has been able to hail women as the real ‘champions’ of reproductive health and hygiene and initiate considerable progress.
Waves of Change
Identifying Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) as ‘Change Agents’ for health behaviour and by increasing awareness and health felt needs at the community level, we have been able to help rural women access and avail measures towards reproductive health, HIV and cervical cancer screening in a more sustainable and cost-effective manner.
Deeper & Higher
A pilot project was conducted in the Kalghatagi Taluk of Dharwad District in Central Karnataka in collaboration with the Institute of Health Management Research, Bangalore, and funded by the Indian Council for Medical Research, New Delhi. After its successful completion, the intervention has now been expanded to include 3 other Taluks – Navalgund, Kundgol and Hubli.
FWF has been working in North Karnataka for the last 6 years and with the success and lessons learnt, we intend to gradually cover the entire district of Dharwad having an approximate population of 1,800,000. In addition, as per DLHS-3 data, Dharwad district stands mid-way in the RCH related health indicators in Karnataka and also has a 50% functioning of SHGs, thus allowing a window of measurable impact. It is also hoped that with the long-term involvement of Fourth Wave Foundation, with its basis in grass-roots work at the community level, there will be a revival of the government sponsored village health and sanitation committees (VHSCs) for broader health related impact and community involvement & empowerment.
Some of the measurable results of the project using quantitative and qualitative data analysis:
- Change in rates of Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) specific awareness/attitudes and practices among SHG members, gradually spilling over to the non-SHG members
- Change in uptake of sanitary napkins and hygiene from baseline, opening an opportunity for SHGs running manufacturing units with ready local markets
- Change in number of women/men and couples accessing care for RTIs/STIs/peri-partum infections and number completing treatment
- Increase in number of safe deliveries
- Change in number of women screened for cervical cancer and those completing required follow up
- Change in number of men/women with HIV specific knowledge and getting HIV tested
- Change in met/unmet need for family planning and birth spacing
Strength to Strength
An MOU will be entered with the Karnataka Medical College (KMC), Hubli for follow up and care of women who screen positive for cervical cancer.
Functioning of SHGs
Baseline survey and FGDs will be conducted to assess the current functioning level of SHGs and prevailing knowledge, attitudes and practices towards reproductive and sexual health among both SHG members and community members including women and men. The number of women/men accessing care for RTIs/STIs at the PHCs over the last six months will also be checked.
Field level workers will be appropriately trained after obtaining the required permissions from the district/taluk/PRI/VHSCs level authorities.