Traci L . Baird, President and CEO of EngenderHealth—a global women’s health and sexual and reproductive rights organization—met with Shri H.D Kumaraswamy, Hon. Chief Minister of Karnataka and Shri Sivananda S. Patil, Honorable Health Minister of Karnataka, to discuss areas of collaboration and support intended to strengthen the State Government’s priorities on family planning.
The meetings were held as part of Ms. Baird’s 4-day visit to India, one of the first countries in EngenderHealth’s global portfolio that she has visited since joining the organization just over three months ago. Prior to visiting Karnataka, Ms. Baird met with senior officials in the Central Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in the national capital.
The Hon. Chief Minister spoke about his government’s committement to social and economic development, and thanked Ms. Baird for the support EngenderHealth was providing to the state in the area of family planning. Ms. Baird expressed her deep appreciation of the partnership between EngenderHealth and Government of Kanataka, and thanked the Chief Minister for the direction, guidance and support his government was providing for project.
The Hon. Health Minister acknowledged the technical expertise EngenderHealth brought into the partnership, and greatly appreciated the support provided to enhance the capacity of the government health personnel to scale quality post-partum family planning services. Thanking the Honorable Minister for guidance and support to the program, Ms. Baird complimented the Minister on his leadership in the health and family planning sector, particularly the commendable initiative to scale up universal health coverage for all residents in the state.
Ms. Baird also met the Principal Secretary of Health, Shri. Javed Akhtar, and had wide ranging discussions with him on health and social development issues in the State.
EngenderHealth supports the Government of Karnataka in the effort to strengthen family planning services in 14 hard-to-reach districts, where performance of family planning services is lower than the state average. The project, supported by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to promote a range of contraceptive methods, in particular postpartum and post-abortion family planning methods. One of the mandates of the project is to roll out the delivery of newly introduced injectable contraceptive method—Antara—in public health facilities in Karnataka. In addition, the project is building capacities of the Accredited Social Health Activists—the frontline health workers at the village level—to counsel and provide information to young couples on family planning.
Ms. Baird also visited the general hospital, Yelahanka, Bangalore north taluk, and met health care providers trained by EngenderHealth in delivery of qualitypost-partum and post-abortion family planning services. She learnt directly from frontline health workers how they are taking health and family planning information and services into communities and households. She also met a few family planning clients, who shared their personal experiences of accessing services from the facility.
Ms. Baird said “At EngenderHealth, we know that sexual and reproductive health and rights are necessary for all people, particularly women and girls, to achieve gender equality and reach their full potentials. As an organization, we envision a world where all people can exercise their sexual and reproductive health rights and choices as full participants in society.”
“We are pleased to work with the Governments of India and Karnataka in our shared mission to improve access to reproductive health and family information and services. I am impressed and inspired by the political commitment and leadership shown by the Karnataka Governments in this endeavor and to the empowerment of women and girls.”
EngenderHealth Asia Regional Representative, Shumon Sengupta, added, “It is heartening to see the dedication and devotion of service providers who provide quality services, and to see EngenderHealth trainers working in tandem with them in this joint effort.”
Ms. Baird underscored EngenderHealth’s commitment to working closely with State Governments in India, under the guidance and stewardship of the Central Government. “We hope in the coming years, we will be able to strengthen our partnerships in India including in areas of access to safe abortion and in strengthening the national program on adolescent health, namely Rashtriya Kishore Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK). I will leave India deeply inspired by the visionary leadership provided by the Central government in formulating Health policies and programs, and by the State government of Karnataka in implementing these programs effectively in the State,” she said.