Women in the Indian state of Assam are routinely denied access to adequate health services and Assam’s health facilities often lack the resources necessary to ensure safe motherhood. As a result, Assam has the highest maternal mortality rate in India, with most of the deaths occurring among Adivasi (tribal) communities who live and work in the tea gardens.
These violations of the rights to health, life and equality are neither reported nor addressed. Basic tools to communicate, inform, and document violations are virtually non-existent, and women lack access to mechanisms to hold public and private entities accountable for the failure to provide life-saving treatment as required by law.
The End Maternal Mortality Now project launched an interactive website built on Ushahidi, to map failures in the health system in the State of Assam. Over 40 women in the District of Sonitpur have been trained to report violations of health and food benefits provided under the Government welfare schemes through codified SMS texts, which are then mapped to detect patterns of violations. The project is supported in its pilot phase by the Information Society Innovation Fund.
Jaspreet Singh from the International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination (ICAAD), an organization that combats structural discrimination, says:
“The SMS system allows for the tracking of multiple health rights violations, including the lack of resources at health centers. It is also acting as a community empowerment tool by engaging local women to collect data that will be used to hold the government accountable.”
The data received is gathered on endmmnow.org, which maps patterns of violations as well as individual cases across the District. The nine-month pilot project will be used to demand better health infrastructure by local activists and lawyers through administrative complaints and court litigation so that tea garden women workers be treated with dignity and have guaranteed access to lifesaving healthcare.