A systematic review of programmes to promote the rights of women to high quality maternal health services has revealed only a small minority of projects that regard the family as an asset. A 2010 report by WHO recommended that all service improvement projects should engage families.
The study found three reports from around the world that specifically address family engagement:
A village project in Andra Pradesh in India to mobilise support for pregnant women engaged families specifically, through meetings and home visits. Engaging men in these ways became progressively easier as the project proceeded. Issues addressed with the men included domestic violence and how to support the pregnancy. (Sinha 2008)
A CARE International project in Uttar Pradesh in India specifically included challenges to existing gender norms and appealed to men to become defenders of pregnant women’s rights. This project involved inviting couples to group meetings to discuss maternal healthcare. (CARE International & ICRW 2010)
A project in Kazakhstan specifically promoted privacy in the maternal health facilities, to enable the women to have family with them during labour. (USAID 2005)
But in the other 23 studies covered in the review, family members were not engaged – only the women themselves and, in some cases, health professionals and the wider community.
The review article recommends that quality improvement campaigns should be designed in partnership with families and communities as a precursor to mobilising their support.
George AS & Branchin C (2017), Principles and processes behind promoting awareness of rights for quality maternal care services: a synthesis of stakeholder experiences and implementation factors, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 17
CARE International & ICRW (2007), Inner spaces outer faces initiative (ISOFI) toolkit: tools for learning and action on gender and sexuality
Sinha D (2008), Empowering communities to make pregnancy safer: an intervention in rural Andhra Pradesh, Population Council, New Delhi
World Health Organization (2010), Working with individuals, families and communities to improve maternal and newborn health. WHO/MPS/09.04
Photo: The White Ribbon Alliance. Creative Commons.