In Uttar Pradesh (UP), India’s most populous state, 1,000 children die every day, largely due to preventable diseases and undernutrition. More than half of all adolescent girls are anemic, and the state’s maternal mortality rate stands at 285 per 100,000 live births, nearly twice the national average. These health challenges have been compounded by political indifference and administrative apathy. Since 2014, GHS has worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to educate elected leaders representing all major political parties across UP about the need to prioritize health and nutrition in order to improve outcomes in their constituencies and at the state level.
Uttar Pradesh's maternal mortality rate is 285 per 100,000 live births – nearly twice the national average.
GHS has used meetings with leaders as an opportunity to share data on health care to show the urgent need to address the health and nutrition gaps for mothers and children in UP, as well as the socioeconomic impact of investing in their wellbeing. GHS has also coordinated visits for policymakers to their constituencies to show them first-hand the appalling state of health care at the community level and to inspire them to act. During these visits, the leaders met with health workers, community leaders and beneficiaries to gain insight into challenges faced on the ground.
After being confronted with inadequate health service delivery in their constituencies, several leaders have decided to take action. Gaps in infrastructure, staff shortages and defunct medical equipment were addressed immediately in their districts. The elected representatives also encouraged colleagues to focus on these issues and to work with community leaders to improve access to health care. At the state level, senior leaders across political parties are increasingly recognizing the importance of health as a development and electoral issue. Today, more than 20 leaders in UP have made the health of mothers and children central to how they approach the welfare of their constituents.