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Community Radio and Maternal Health in Madhya Pradesh
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Vandana Dube (foreground), the manager of Dharkan 107.8 travels on a local bus with her program-maker colleague Ramvati Adivasi. Before the official launch of the community radio station in July 2009, Dube and her colleagues have recorded several programs informing women of government health services. They then travel to villages to play these programs to a local audience. Dube calls the airing of these pilot shows "narrowcast" in anticipation of the imminent "broadcast". As well as her role at Dharkan 107.8, Adivasi is is an ASHA (local female health advisor). She provides a free referral service to local women, keeping them in touch with government health services. Adivasi receives a fee from the government for every referral. This is one means by which the government and partners UNICEF are increasing the rate of institutional deliveries in Madhya Pradesh. ..Shivpuri district in Madhya Pradesh suffers from poor health outcomes. Of particular concern is the high rate of maternal mortality. One of the Indian government's aims, with partners Unicef, is to encourage the population to adopt practices to improve sanitation and health practices. In an area made up of traditionally disadvantage groups and suffering low literacy rates, this can be a challenge. ..A survey found that radio was the most readily accessible media by the Shivpuri community with more than half saying they tuned in several times a day. ..Dharkan 107.8 FM will go on air in July. The station that will broadcast to 75 villages in a 15-kilometer radius reaching 170,000 people...Rather than preaching educational messages, the station, which is already producing pilot programs, uses humor and folk artists performing in the local language to entertain and inform their audiences. There is a major impact, especially on women, who are contributing their voices to such wide-ranging issues as caste discrimination, female feticide and women's empowerment. ..Photo: Tom Pietrasik.Shivpuri, Madhya Pradeh. India.