The Mitanin Help Desk: A friend in deed
The Mitanin programme in Chhattisgarh is the precursor of the ASHA programme running through out the country. It has carved out a niche for itself. The State Health and Resource Centre (SHRC), an institution initiated by NGOs, has been putting its best efforts to ensure that the Mitanin programme, its brainchild, lives up to the people’s expectations.‘ Mitanin’ in Chhattisgarhi means a female friend. And that is exactly what this programme does – the female voluntary workers help women access health care, guide and educate them to lead a healthy life.
The contribution of the mitanins in the health sector has been very significant. The Chief Minister announced Rs 50 lakhs for the Mitanins’ welfare fund immediately after the state received the 4th JRD TATA Memorial Award.
The Mitanin has been a key person in the Village Health & Sanitation Committee. She contributes in many ways to the village -- initiating behavioral change communication, supporting women’s empowerment, ensuring health service delivery through medical kits, networking and linkages with the community-based organizations and health planning.
A force of 60,000 mitanins in the state has proved that deep commitment and voluntary service can also be performed by ordinary rural women at the village level.
The Mitanin Help Desk is an example of voluntarism and an attempt to make the rural women feel at home at Community Health Centres, Primary Health Centres and district hospitals. A two-member team of mitanins provides help and guidance to women coming from rural areas. The mitanins are available from 9 am to 6 pm. They provide basic information to patients about the hospital, attend referral cases, promote the Janani Suraksha Yojana for safe motherhood and safe birth-outcomes, by giving a cash incentive of Rs 700 to rural Below-Poverty-Line pregnant women who deliver in government hospitals and PHCs in the state. They also provide information on governmental schemes and facilitate birth and death registrations.
The Mitanin desks have helped in substantially increasing the rural women turnout at the medical centres and hospitals. On an average, the desk attends to 35 to 50 women patients per day.