SNEHA (Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action) is an NGO for women that has been quietly but effectively transforming the lives of marginalized communities since its inception in 1998. Founded by a dedicated group of neonatologists led by Dr. Armida Fernandez, a former Dean of a prominent public hospital in Mumbai, SNEHA has been on a mission to improve the health, nutrition and the safety of women, children and adolescents living in the challenging conditions of urban informal settlements. Through its unwavering commitment to create sustainable change, SNEHA is an NGO for women that has emerged as a shining light in the realm of urban public health.

The SNEHA journey: a commitment to change

SNEHA is more than just an NGO for women; it is a catalyst for transformation in some of the most vulnerable pockets of urban India. The organization’s core mission revolves around working in close collaboration with communities and health systems to craft effective and replicable solutions. These solutions are designed to empower women and their families, particularly in urban slums, to take control of their health and well-being. The multifaceted approach of this NGO for women spans four significant areas of public health: maternal and child health, adolescent health, the prevention of violence against women and children and health systems strengthening.

One of the most alarming statistics that underscores the need for the work of this NGO for women is the annual loss of nearly 35,000 women in India due to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. Additionally, the high prevalence of anemia among women of reproductive age, estimated at 57%, is a pressing concern. Beyond maternal health, unhealthy habits during adolescence contribute to a staggering 33% of the disease burden among young adults in India. The scourge of violence against women and children is yet another issue of paramount importance, with 1 in 3 women and girls worldwide affected by violence, and 32% of ever-married women in India reporting partner violence.

The root causes of these problems are multifaceted, with rapid urbanization and overburdened infrastructure compounding the issues. Accessibility to quality healthcare services becomes a challenge, leading to preventable health crises. However, SNEHA is an NGO for women that acknowledges that these issues are not insurmountable and are often tied to a lack of awareness about healthy practices and inadequate access to quality healthcare services. To support SNEHA, you can donate here

A holistic approach to health and well-being

SNEHA’s approach to addressing these pressing health challenges is holistic and comprehensive, aimed at breaking the intergenerational cycle of poor health that often accompanies poverty and deprivation. The NGO for women adopts a life-cycle approach that intervenes at critical junctures in an individual’s life, starting from preconception, through pregnancy, childbirth, postnatal care, early childhood and adolescence. This approach ensures that the health and nutrition of women and children are addressed at each developmental stage.

One of the most distinctive aspects of SNEHA’s approach is its two-pronged strategy. Firstly, the NGO for women works tirelessly within vulnerable communities to improve health-seeking behaviors and raise awareness about available health services. SNEHA is committed to nurturing a sense of agency among the community members, empowering them to become advocates for their own health.

Secondly, SNEHA is an NGO for women that collaborates extensively with public health systems and healthcare providers to enhance service delivery. This includes providing training, capacity building, data sharing and advocacy. By working hand-in-hand with the public health sector, SNEHA leverages the existing infrastructure to achieve more comprehensive and sustainable results.

Measuring impact: SNEHA’s reach and achievements

SNEHA’s work has left a profound and lasting impact on the lives of countless individuals living in Mumbai’s urban informal settlements. Over the years, this NGO for women has directly worked with 406,000 women and children, but its influence extends far beyond that, indirectly touching the lives of approximately 1.68 million people across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority from 2016 to 2023.

The impact of SNEHA’s work is evident in various key metrics. The NGO for women has provided crucial assistance to 42,595 pregnant women facing potential complications, significantly reducing stunting by 27% and underweight conditions among children aged 0-2 years by 17% from 2019 to 2022, as confirmed by a baseline-endline survey. Additionally, the programs of this NGO for women have led to a notable 40% improvement in maternal dietary diversity and a 34% contraceptive prevalence rate from 2019 to 2022, particularly within the SNEHA centers.

Perhaps one of the most striking indicators of the impact of this NGO for women is the substantial 70% increase in the utilization of public health and nutrition services. These statistics highlight a noticeable shift towards positive health-seeking behaviors among the target communities. Additionally, SNEHA’s collaborative efforts with health facilities have led to 95% of health facilities across seven municipal corporations in MMRDA referring maternal high-risk cases to higher health facilities. This achievement is the result of comprehensive referral slips developed in partnership with health facilities, a testament to the organization’s ability to improve the healthcare system.

Another noteworthy accomplishment is the enhancement of health posts and Urban Primary Health Centers across the seven Municipal Corporations, with 84% of these facilities now providing essential nine core services required for antenatal care. This indicates an improved standard of care and accessibility to essential maternal healthcare services.

SNEHA’s enduring legacy of change

SNEHA’s work embodies the essence of transformative change, driven by a commitment to improve the health, nutrition and safety of women, children and adolescents living in urban informal settlements. The comprehensive approach of this NGO for women, focusing on both community empowerment and strengthening public health systems, has yielded impressive results. By directly touching the lives of hundreds of thousands and indirectly impacting over a million individuals, this NGO for women stands as a shining example of what dedicated individuals and organizations can achieve in the realm of public health.

As SNEHA continues its journey, the NGO for women serves as a source of hope and a reminder that, even in the face of daunting health challenges, positive change is possible. By empowering communities, educating individuals, and transforming healthcare systems, SNEHA contributes to the creation of a healthier, safer, and more prosperous urban India. In doing so, this NGO for women leaves an enduring legacy of change that inspires us all to strive for a better, more equitable world. To support SNEHA, you can donate here.

Image: SNEHA

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