Deliver Now India

India - Rally and Public Hearing

Balangir, Orissa, India- 25 June 2008

WRA Alliance

About 1,300 women - including community members, elected officials, the media and civil society representatives- stood up for action to improve women's health at the first Deliver Now rally and public hearing in the town of Balangir, Orissa, India.

The public hearing was chaired by the top administrative official of Balangir district and provided a dynamic public forum for women to question local officials about the state of maternal and child health services. Issues raised included: the lack of adequate health providers, the need for improving the quality of care, irregularities in government-issued benefits to women and their families, the prevalence of bribery and corruption in the health system and the need for improving attitudes of maternal and child health service providers at all levels.

Outcomes of the meeting included: agreement on setting up a grievance unit, including a complaint box at the district hospital, agreement by the chief district medical officer to present data on MNCH service delivery at monthly meetings of the local government council, and extensive media coverage of the rally and hearing.

More public hearings will follow in the 11 other districts in Orissa through the Deliver Now Orissa campaign, organized by the White Ribbon Alliance of India/Orissa with support from The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health.

Voices from the Public

    • "When a maternal death occurs, our family is ruined. You, the collector never feel the sorrow and the pain that our families feel. You are meant to provide us with a quality service but we are not getting it. So whom do we hold accountable for maternal deaths?"
    • "Answer us before you give any speeches. Can you identify one woman in this huge gathering who has given birth safely in a hospital without bribing?"
    • "Because of the provider's bad behaviour, rural woman do not want to come to the hospital. When a woman is pregnant and delivering in pain and fear, she should be treated well. It's not me I'm talking about; I'm speaking on behalf of all women."
    • "In normal cases too, doctors are encouraging women to have Caesareans in order to get more money."