Impact of an integrated microfinance and health literacy program on maternal health care awareness and practice in rural India

  • Danish Ahmad

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Improving maternal health is a global public health priority. Despite overall maternal health improvement over decades, almost 295,000 maternal deaths still occur annually. Almost 99 per cent of these deaths are in high-poverty and low-resource countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Within South Asia, India alone accounts for an estimated 10-15 per cent (29,500-45,000) of global maternal deaths annually. While India has prioritised institutional birth through conditional cash transfer schemes, substantial gaps persist in the early identification and care of maternal complications between rural and urban populations, especially in the antenatal and postnatal periods that disproportionately impact poor families with low literacy. Studies found that the inadequacies of the health system are compounded by community-related delays in seeking care and reaching health facilities due to financial barriers and low awareness of pregnancy complications and complication readiness. Recently, a novel, rapidly scalable community-based program combining maternal health literacy delivery through microfinance-based women-only self-help groups (SHG) targeted women in low-income rural households across less-developed districts in India’s most populated state, Uttar Pradesh. This research evaluates the impact of membership in the Integrated Microfinance and Health Literacy (IMFHL) program on key maternal health outcomes. It first examines the determinants and duration of SHG membership. Next, it evaluates the program’s effect on the level of knowledge of maternal danger signs relating to obstetric complications and the adoption of birth preparedness and complication readiness (BPCR) practice among SHG members and non-members. The study also examines the diffusion effect of acquired knowledge and practice from SHG members to non-members in program villages.
Date of Award2021
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorItismita Mohanty (Supervisor), Theo Niyonsenga (Supervisor), Rachel Davey (Supervisor), Dileep V. Mavalankar (Supervisor) & Yohannes Kinfu (Supervisor)

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