Upscaling Masum’s Efforts on Women’s Health Rights
Despite the fact that a large number of women suffer from gynaecological and reproductive morbidities and hence, lose many years of their productive lives, India lacks a comprehensive prevention and management system for gynaecological morbidities. In the absence of a regular screening programme (as part of the public health care programme), most reproductive illnesses progress to chronic stages.
Up-scaling MASUM’s interventions on women’s health and its advocacy efforts for integrating local level screening for reproductive tract infections (RTI), sexually transmitted infections (STI), CA-Cervix etc. into the public health system.
MASUM’s efforts to advocate for women’s health concerns to be recognised beyond maternity started in the 1980s, resulting in the initiation of the ‘Feminist Health Centre’ (Streewadi Arogya Kendra) in Saswad in the early 1990s. In their endeavour to improve the health status of women across Maharashtra, the Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation supports MASUM in the following areas:
Advocacy in partnership with four other NGOs in Maharashtra:Along with four similar organisations working for women’s health, MASUM will consolidate the health concerns of women and upscale MASUM’s experience to their health workers. These organisations will then lobby with district-level authorities to make the screening services available at the taluka level through rural hospitals, if not available at the Primary Health Centre level.
Mobilising demand pressure in Purandar for district level advocacy:To initiate a campaign in villages and generate demand for such services from the local groups, MASUM conducts detection camps (one camp per year in a cluster of 3 to 4 villages) at the community level. In addition, they organise campaign meetings in villages and at the district-level to create pressure on the public health machinery and local level screening services to be provided by the public health system.
Capacity building of MASUM staff:The local communities perceive MASUM’s team as resource persons and approach them for clarifications on issues that MASUM takes up locally. Hence, it is necessary that ongoing training programmes are organised for the entire staff to sharpen their perspective on women’s health issues.
Founded by Dr. Manisha Gupte and Dr. Ramesh Awasthi in 1987, MASUM has been working through the rights-based approach and a feminist perspective for the past 25 years. The NGO is the district nodal agency (Pune district) for the Community-Based Monitoring Programme under the NRHM since September 2007. They have also been part of the People’s Health Movement in India (Jan Swasthya Abhiyan) since its inception in 2000. MASUM actively engages in a wide range of issues including health, savings and credit, addressing violence against women, women’s political participation and child and youth rights.
The project has played a significant role in developing the capacities of civil society organizations to facilitate early screening, detection and treatment for cervical cancer and lobbying and advocacy for making programmatic changes to support cancer prevention