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Pranita Ingole

A PATH-trained community health worker helped Pranita access prenatal care.

Pranita Ingole gets prepared for motherhood

Pranita Ingole, a young, shy woman from the Indian state of Maharashtra, is pregnant with her first child. She lives in a two-room shanty with her husband and six family members. She will continue to work long days as a laundress—and care for her family members—until she goes into labor.

This is typical for mothers living in urban areas near India’s largest cities. Work leaves them little time for doctors for learning how to care for new babies. Even a newborn’s most basic needs are hard to come by. Every year, an untold number of Indian children die within a month of birth. Thousands grow up weak or sickly, robbed of the essentials of a healthy childhood.

Through the Sure Start Project, PATH is changing the lives of mothers and children, helping communities protect newborns and their mothers through simple, effective measures: guiding pregnant women to necessary health services, helping new mothers learn to care for their babies. In 2007, PATH worked in two states, training 800 community volunteers and health care workers in Maharashtra and mobilizing 5,100 mothers’ groups and 2,836 village health and sanitation committees in Uttar Pradesh. PATH estimates that the initiative will reach approximately a million mothers and their newborns over the life of the project.

A few months into her pregnancy, Pranita was approached by Radha Doibhale, a community health worker trained by PATH. Radha convinced Pranita to go to the hospital for her first prenatal examination. Through regular meetings with Radha, Pranita learned how to breastfeed, where to go for immunization, how important it is to keep a newborn baby warm. In January 2008, she gave birth at a local hospital to a healthy baby boy.

With help from PATH, women like Pranita no longer face motherhood unprepared and alone. As Pranita says, “It’s a big difference we are seeing now.” PATH is working in some of India’s highest-need and hardest-to-reach areas to give India the strongest possible future.

Photo: Satvir Malhotra.