ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Maternal and Child Health

The data from the Rapid Survey on Children conducted in 2013-14, released after an inexplicable delay and still in a summary fashion, show some but patchy progress between 2005-06 and 2013-14 in maternal and child health indicators. A preliminary analysis indicates that in those areas where special efforts were made, such as in increasing institutional delivery and expanding immunisation coverage, some results are seen. This calls for greater investments in health and nutrition within a more comprehensive approach.

Understanding Issues Involved in Toilet Access for Women

While insufficient sanitation facilities often get represented in statistics and are reported in the literature on urban infrastructure planning and contested urban spaces, what is often left out is the everyday practice and experience of going to dysfunctional toilets, particularly by women. By analysing the practices and problems associated with toilet use from a phenomenological perspective, this article aims to situate the issue in the everyday lives of women.

Safe Abortion as a Women's Right

A study conducted among law enforcement officials in seven countries across Asia by the Asia Safe Abortion Partnership to measure the level of knowledge, attitude and awareness of women’s rights as well as safe and legal abortion shows lack of understanding about the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and the subsequent amendments. Many lawyers believe that even if it did become a regular component of the law curriculum, there would be few takers, given the low potential for such cases in the practice. In the current environment, where the issue of implementation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act tends to wrongly overshadow discussions on safe abortion and the MTP Act, these views are important as they affect the way safe abortion is perceived as a women’s right and have an impact on restriction or liberalisation of women’s access to safe abortion services.

Women at Risk in the Unregulated Surrogacy 'Industry'

In recent times India has become a haven for commercial surrogacy, a controversial assisted reproductive technology. Acute poverty means that there are always women ready to rent their wombs. But lack of laws and regulations means there is no transparency in the business of surrogacy and the surrogate mothers are prone to exploitation. The Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill 2013 aims to mend matters. This exploratory study conducted in Kolkata brings to light challenges that any legislation dealing with surrogacy must address. It shows how poor women who rent their wombs for money--ignoring social stigma, health hazards, fear and mental stress--are vulnerable to exploitation.

Studying Women Seeking Abortions

Abortion in Asia: Local Dilemmas, Global Politics edited by Andrea Whittaker, New Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2013; pp xii + 253, Rs 895.

Contrived Confusions

Ethical dilemmas surrounding abortion, particularly the conflict between human and legal rights of a childbearing woman and the so-called rights of an unborn child, are quite legitimate. However, the pro-life activists should desist from treating a woman as mere receptacle for the unborn child, taking away her inalienable right to control her own body.

Nutrition: What Needs To Be Done?

About 805 million people - one in nine people worldwide - remain chronically hungry. Ending hunger and malnutrition requires strong political commitment at the highest level, effective coordination among various ministries and partners, and broad-based social participation. Three policy priorities are crucial to ending malnutrition - expansion of social protection; making smallholder agriculture more nutrition sensitive; and focusing on under-fi ve child and maternal nutrition defi ciencies. An integrated approach is needed to ensure that food consumed is nutritious, wholesome, acceptable, safe and affordable, especially to the poorest and most vulnerable.

Dangerous Motherhood

Despite recent improvements in the maternal health scenario in rural Assam, it remains the state with the highest number of maternal deaths in the country. Institutional delivery, antenatal care, and postnatal care have been actively promoted by the state to deal with the situation. However, state policies are still incongruously geared towards addressing the issue without taking sufficient note of the various sociocultural impediments in the way of institutional care.

Manipulation by Association

Much of India's nutrition agenda is being driven by the private sector through public-private partnerships and so-called multi-stakeholder dialogues. The new strategies of transnational corporations fall under the category of manipulation by association, where they establish their role and legitimacy by associating themselves with key institutions and people. A prime example of this is the influential 2013 series on maternal and child nutrition published by the Lancet. This comment analyses the issue and proposes some solutions.

Wealth and Health of Children in India

What are the relationships between wealth and children's health in India's states that are as populous as many other countries? Presenting a state-level analysis of the association between state net domestic product per capita and three children's health indicators, this paper describes how these relationships differ in the last two rounds of the National Family Health Survey. It finds evidence that the cross-sectional relationships between aggregate wealth and children's health indicators are positive, yet the association was less steep in the mid-2000s than in the late 1990s. It also finds a negative relationship between growth in SNDP per capita and improvement in state-level children's health indicators. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the kinds of investments which improve health may lead to economic growth, rather than vice versa.

Recent Shifts in Infant Mortality in India

The web version of this article corrects a few errors that appeared in the print edition. The pace of decline in infant mortality in India has quickened in recent years after the introduction of the National Rural Health Mission. However, the post-neonatal deaths have declined faster than the neonatal deaths despite the emphasis on preventing the latter in the health mission. Apart from a number of reasons, this is linked to the poor quality of the public health services in general, and the undernourishment and anaemia levels of pregnant women in particular.

Abortion Services and Providers' Perceptions: Gender Dimensions

This paper explores the gender dimensions of abortion-service providers' perceptions of women who access such care. A study in two districts of Maharashtra indicates that providers' responses to abortion situations are shaped largely by their attitude towards women, to women's health care and especially to abortion care. These attitudes in turn influence women's access to abortion and to the quality of service.

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