This month, the United States Government and India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched a health program aimed at improving maternal and child health and nutrition in India. More women in India die from complications associated with pregnancy and childbirth than anywhere else in the world. Annually, more than one-million-two-hundred-thousand newly-born Indian babies die within a month. Diarrhea is a leading cause of child mortality in India due in part to the lack of access to safe drinking water and toilets for nearly half of the population.
The Maternal and Child Health Sustainable Technical Assistance and Research Initiative will work to improve maternal and child health care in India over the next five years through applied research, policy analysis, advocacy and technical assistance.
Speaking at the events inaugurating the new program, Secretary Naresh Dayal of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said, “We need an expanding reservoir of professional research, public health and technical assistance institutions working at global standards that can support government programs.”
Water and sanitation systems in some areas of India, especially in the cities, are overstressed. This raises health risks and increases the domestic burden on women and girls. The U.S. Agency for International Development is working to increase viability in the power sector to meet consumer needs, conserve energy and water resources, and promote clean technologies and renewable energy. Nearing completion, a USAID-supported water and sanitation project is providing clean drinking water and sewerage to residents in the greater Bangalore area. In total, one-million-five-hundred-thousand people in approximately three-hundred-thousand households will benefit from the project.
Commenting on the newest U.S.-India health initiative, USAID Mission Director George Deikun noted that the U.S. aims “to make real improvements in the lives of women and their children through this unique program, led by Indian institutions and facilitated by U.S.-based global expertise.