Project Lead(s): Mukesh Kanaskar
Denotified and Nomadic Tribes (DNTs) in India are one of the most disadvantaged populations in the world. Though their population exceeds 110 million their plight has remained neglected, as they are alienated from mainstream Indian society due to prevailing stigmas and prejudice.
DNTs display poor health seeking behavior, often attributable to their lack of access to government health services. Disparities are particularly pronounced for antenatal care (ANC), delivery, and immunization.
In the targeted area, it was found that: 33% of women had institutional deliveries, 8% of children were fully immunized, and 9% of pregnancies resulted in stillbirths.
Gender inequities persist as women lack reproductive rights and are still subjected to medieval style penalties and atrocities.
The project aimed to improve the access of DNTs to health services by building community health capacity and creating an mHealth app to connect DNTs to government and social services. Additionally, the team trained Health Volunteers and mobilized a DNT Settlement Health Committee.
The innovation was piloted in 12 DNT settlements in the Bid District’s Shirur Kasar block, an area infamous for gender inequality.
The project involved government health and DNT stakeholders, collaborated with representatives of DNT Settlement Health Committees, and conducted sensitization workshops in order to raise settlement awareness of health issues.
Educational sessions and Gender Sensitive Self-Assessments and Planning involved visual tools and communication due to the high illiteracy rate among DNT groups.
Gender discrimination was addressed by ensuring all Health Volunteers were women and that 50% of the members of the Settlement Health Committees were DNT women.
The DNT community established a stronger link with government health services and exhibited more positive health seeking behaviours.
The targeted groups improved their health status, with an increased uptake of ANC, immunization, and institutional delivery services. DNT Settlement Health Committees and Health Volunteers improved the ability of the targeted communities to interact with the health system.
The project also found improved RMNCH awareness for both men and women within DNTs.
Impact and Results