There is an interesting program going on in India these days, which is highlighted in yesterday’s Washington Post.
Lure of cash aids India’s efforts to reduce number of women dying in childbirth describes a government program to reduce maternal mortality by luring village women to give birth in a hospital by paying them $30, which is several weeks of family wages.
Interestingly, the program also considered the psychological issues that keep poor women out of hospitals: fear of the unknown. Having never been to a hospital before, the women are confused and don’t know what to expect.
Along with paying mothers to give birth in a clinic, India’s government has hired an army of women, armed them with cellphones and notebooks, and given them training to become local health assistants, called Ashas, which means “hope” in Hindi.
The Ashas recruit pregnant women to the program, but also educate them about what to expect and accompany them to the hospital when they go into labor.
This is a program that seems to be working, but my favorite part of this article is how the name of the program translates in Hindi:
In two of the poorest states in India — Bihar and Uttar Pradesh — the number of women giving birth in medical facilities soared from less than 20 percent in 2005 to nearly 50 percent in 2008, according to the most recent data available.
Doctors here attribute that to the payment program, whose Hindi name translates to “women protection scheme.”