CHETNA, which means awareness in several Indian languages- is an acronym for Centre for Health Education, Training, and Nutrition Awareness. CHETNA has been working in India, since 1980- and has maintained its place as an important advocate for women rights. CHETNA’s work is of great importance in a country where women experience a combination of socio- cultural barriers to their health. CHETNA believes that improving health facility based oversight mechanisms (OMs) and stimulating political action towards sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are vital components to improving the health and wellbeing of women in India.
CHETNA works to ensure that hospitals and health institutions remain accountable to women and their health needs. They do this by advocating for strong Oversight Mechanisms (OMs). In January to June of 2015, CHETNA successfully managed to engage with 17 different Rajasthan Medical Relief Society (RMRS) facilities. CHETNA provided each facility with a submission of what services should be provided by them to ensure women health needs are met. This engagement has resulted in 5 community based organizations affiliated with CHETNA to be awarded membership in RMRS oversight mechanisms at 7 facilities. They also successfully encouraged 7/17 facilities to hold meetings and three facilities have taken action to improve the quality of services provided . This has resulted in increased hygiene and sanitation, the initiation of delivery services, and filling vacant medical staff positions.
On the local scale:
CHETNA and it’s affiliated Community Based Organizations (CBOs) have engaged with the newly
elected representatives of the Panchayats (local government) and taken action to address proposals from the Gram Sabha (local community group). This engagement has been met with success, as the Panchayat governments are interested in addressing women’s health concerns. This is evident in the prompt implementation of Gram Sabha funding allocations, which has resulted in Anganwadi (small facilities that provide basic health care) centres being repaired, land, funds, and the start of construction for new sub-centres, and the filling of vacant positions for medical officers in health centres.
On the National/International Scale:
CHETNA has engaged with the mid-term review of the implementation of recommendations from India’s Universal Periodic Review. CHETNA chaired the review session of SRHR recommendations in a consultation with human rights activists and organizations from Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Goa. In addition, CHETNA contributed a note on Maternal Health in India, Maternal Child Health and Nutrition Days, and efforts to ensure vital services were available to the Salt Pan region of Gujarat.
The Women’s Health and Rights Advocacy Partnership (WHRAP) -South Asia aims to promote marginalized women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. WHRAP combines grassroots evidence with national and international advocacy to promote the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of women. http://www.whrap.org