Tag Archives: Hospital

Maternal and General Healthcare in India

As we sat with an expecting mothers’ group in Okhla slum in south Delhi with Save the Children India we learned that the government provides a countrywide incentive program for women to deliver their babies in a hospital as opposed to delivering at home. While monetary payment to give birth in an institution would help many poor Indian families particularly those who are migrant workers and slum dwellers it isn’t a foolproof way to entice expectant mothers into government hospitals.

Mother's Group

Some still believe the traditional way of delivering at home with a midwife is far better than delivering in an institution. This goes back to a wide-held belief that many believe hospitals are intended solely for people who are sick and pregnancy isn’t seen as a sickness. Couple this with a healthcare system with great faults and many expectant Indian mothers opt for home deliveries despite the risk of losing their babies or even losing their own lives.

India, despite its soaring economic growth, spends less than 1% of its GDP on healthcare. In a country with 1.2 billion people this is certainly problematic especially as most healthcare is sought out at private clinics despite the high cost of services. Government run hospitals are in bad condition with routinely absentee doctors and a lack of medicines and medical supplies. Christopher Werth, an International Reporting fellow, recently reported for the BBC about India’s healthcare dilemma.

Ethiopia’s Health Care Model, Workers

Ethiopia has its health care flaws and challenges, but what it seems to have captured is an appreciation for simplicity. Ethiopia’s health care system is very easy to understand, even though implementation and results are not easily achievable.

This week I am in Ethiopia with Save the Children and its new campaign Every Beat Matters to observe frontline health workers and the programs that help them achieve the best outcomes with their patients.

Health Extension WorkersOn the community level, health extension workers (HEWs) primarily help expectant and new mothers, newborns, and children. They are trained to diagnose and treat pneumonia, malnutrition, malaria, and diarrhea. They perform antenatal care and prevention and even deliver babies. And they also provide follow-up  care for new mothers.

This video explains how one mother’s baby had a fever and the health extension workers were able to provide immediate care for her.

In addition to health extension workers each community also has a health development army (HDA). These women are a volunteer unit that receives information, help, and health care services from the HEWs and spread the word throughout the community to benefit from the services of the health posts.

Health Development Army

If a patient has an acute illness that the health extension workers cannot treat women and children are referred to health centers where they have a better chance of being helped. And if there is a problem that a health center cannot help, a patient is referred to a district hospital like the Bishoftu hospital highlighted yesterday.

Bishoftu Hospital

Learn more about frontline health workers at Save the Children’s web site Every Beat Matters. Also, read about my first day in Ethiopia in My First Day in Ethiopia: An Army of Women Fight to Save Lives and Day 2: Food by Perscription.