Global Health Strategist
Between 2008 and 2015 we supported the government of Odisha, India to improve the health and nutrition of its population, leading a UK Aid-funded programme of technical support working closely with government counterparts in country. Our experts worked as an integral part of government departments at state and district levels to support stronger convergence between the health, nutrition and WASH sectors, in line with state plans to:
- improve access to health, nutrition, water and sanitation services in underserved areas
- strengthen public health management systems
- improve health, nutrition and hygiene practices and the health-seeking behaviour of communities through initiatives to change behaviour
- improve use of evidence in planning and delivery of equitable health, nutrition, water and sanitation services
- strengthen institutions, ensuring the building of skills and capacity to implement and sustain reforms beyond the life of our support.
Between 2008 and 2012, we worked on health reform and systems strengthening, led by the Department of Health and Family Welfare, and helped set up district-level support to the Department of Women and Child Development. From 2012, in partnership with IPE Global, we increased our focus on nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene. We provided intensive support in 15 nutritionally vulnerable districts in Odisha, geared towards improving the availability and quality of WASH services. We worked with communities to promote the use of these – and broader health and nutrition – services. We also developed ways in which communities could engage with local government and service providers to ensure that services are responsive to their needs, and that the government could be held to account when high quality services are not available.
- We supported the government in Odisha to improve access to health services across the population through Village Health and Nutrition Days. We supported reforms to the management and development of human resources for health. We introduced cash transfer and entitlement schemes, to support mothers caring for infants and avoid early growth faltering.
- We established monitoring systems to track the health of vulnerable groups and determine those in need of financial support to access health services.
- A State Equipment Maintenance Unit was established to improve the hospital equipment management system and utilisation of equipment at facility level.
- We supported a state-wide communications campaign to promote the use of long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets, and the Swasthya Kantha – an interactive village health display to promote use of health services.
- The Shakti Varta initiative worked with more than 10,000 women’s self-help groups to reach around 20 million people, strengthening women’s empowerment for increasing health, nutrition and sanitation outcomes.
- We supported the large-scale introduction of telemedicine and a single mobile phone group for all health workers.
- As a result of the government’s approach and commitment to promoting equity, the institutional delivery rate for Scheduled Tribes rose from 12 per cent in 2005/6 to 70% in 2014, and from 35% to 82% for all women.
- The proportion of mothers and children perceiving postnatal care within 48 hours of birth increased to 55% from 30% between 2005/6 and 2014.
- The proportion of children immunised increased from 52% in 2005/6 to 75% in 2013
- The number of people with sustainable access to drinking water sources increased from 18 million in 2008/09 to 21.2 million in 2013/14 with a target of 30 million for 2015/16.
A case study of how transforming the health system is achieving greater equity
Odisha State in Eastern India is strengthening the health and nutrition systems to achieve greater equity.
We worked with the Government of Odisha, India to improve sanitation and support villages to become open defecation free.
New evidence highlights urgent need for multi-sectorial approach to address child malnutrition in Odisha.
This is how our Shakti Varta helps improve maternal and newborn health and child nutrition and sanitation in Odisha, India.