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RURAL FILES

Travelblog: Once in a lifetime voyage to the heart of India.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

INDIA

My final destination this time around is Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. This district is located the eastern most part of Maharashtra 200 kilometers outside of Nagpur. I will be working with Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health, a local NGO, for the next 9/10 weeks. SEARCH was established in the Gadchiroli district in 1986 and has been present in the region ever since. The district of Gadchiroli selected because of its poor demographics and the lack of basic health care. The mission of SEARCH is threefold: 1.) Providing health care to local populations 2.) Training and education in health 3.) Research to shape health policies.

The purpose of this trip is to document the prevalence of 'eating down' in pregnant women in Gadacharoli, Maharashtra. The long-term goal is to use this data to develop effective health education interventions in the arean (the current educational interventions are not working). Eating down is the voluntary behavior of eating less during pregnancy to gain less weight. It is believed that if the woman gains less weight, the fetus will be smaller and labor will be less difficult. This phenomenon is a commonly held belief among the poor people of India and focus group discussions have revealed it to exist in the district of Gadchiroli. The long-term consequences of lower food intake and other nutritional taboos during pregnancy can result in low weight gain. Low, inadequate intake can lead to malnutrition, which can result in low birth weight babies, and even maternal and infant death. In places where maternal and infant mortality are already high, health care services are inaccessible or nonexistent, and food scarcity is experienced for 3 out 12 months, the ramifications are enormous.

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