The Effect of Self Help Groups on Access to Maternal Health Services

Using national data collected from 22,825 villages across India, Saha, Annear and Pathak (2013) determined that the presence of an SHG in a village is associated with higher knowledge of family planning and maternal health service uptake. Villages with an SHG were more likely to know of and utilize family planning products and services, 19% more likely to deliver in an institution and 8% more likely to have fed their newborns colostrum. Trust, solidarity and sense of belonging are important determinants of health outcomes, and SHGs are an important avenue for promoting these determinants. However SHGs cannot provide maximum impact on community health on their own; it is recommended to combine them with complementary health interventions. Considering 57.9% of Indian villages have an SHG, “these groups are an innovative way to combine poverty alleviation and community health interventions into an integrated strategy that leverages existing resources to achieve greater impact and scale.”

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