Picture3Despite an impressive gross domestic product (GDP) growth, India failed to meet the targets of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5;  to reduce Under-Five Mortality (U5MR) to two-thirds between 1990 and 2015,  and to reduce Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) from 560 to 140 per 1000 for various reasons. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called malnourishment among children a “National Shame” while releasing a report on hunger and malnutrition sometime ago. On the other hand, India initiated the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and Integrated Child Development Scheme to address the above-mentioned grim scenario. Though impressive gains have been reported, they have failed in meeting the respective MDG targets. 
Maternal and Child Health is a sound investment strategy and it is important to collectively act quickly and bring about long­lasting change with participation of the women and networking with allied service delivery systems.  Unless socio-economic, maternal, demographic and environmental determinants are urgently addressed, the status and situation of maternal and child health will remain unaltered.
The Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI) believes that every woman and child counts. And every woman despite her class, caste and creed has the right to have a safe childbirth and every child free and timely vaccination. CHAI has been making various interventions in the field of maternal and child health right from its inception. Paalana Hospital, Palakkad, Kerala, one of the member institutions of CHAI initiated an intervention programme in 2006 to follow up pregnant women, and lactating mothers and children belonging to marginalized communities with community participation. Prompted by Paalana’s strategy, CHAI initiated in May 2014 a novel project promoting “Maternal and Child Health through Mothers Clubs’” with financial assistance from Kindermissionwerk, Germany.  
The project is being implemented with 1000 pregnant women, following WHO guidelines of 1000 days’ follow-up through 10 Member Institutions across 6 States of India. The Member Institutions are Amar Jyothi Health Centre, Ranchi, Jharkhand; Fatima Hospital, Ranchi, Jharkhand;   DSS Amal Jyothi Health Centre, Lalitpur, Uttar Pradesh; St. Mary’s Hospital, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh; MVSS, Sagar, Madhya Pradesh;  Ashaniketan Hospital, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh;  St. Paul’s Health Centre, Dehradun, Uttarkhand; St. Joseph’s Hospital, Baramulla, Jammu & Kashmir; Paalana Hospital, Palakkad, Kerla  and Amala Institute of Medical Sciences, Thrissur, Kerala.
The above-mentioned ten member institutions identified and registered 1000 pregnant women from the most marginalized communities. And they provided comprehensive maternal and child health services in the respective areas. Mothers’ Club was introduced as a strategy to interact and orient the mothers on the possible risks, preventable strategies and cautions to be taken from antenatal period to intranatal and postnatal period. The Mothers’ Club meetings were and are conducted by medical practitioners at regular intervals. The meetings helped to effectively follow up with the mothers and children on nutrition, vaccination, immunization, breastfeeding, and medication of mothers and infants. The follow-up and observation will continue till October 2017.

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