This publication is part of a series of eleven reports produced as part of the 'Small grants programme on Gender and Social Issues in Reproductive Health Research.
When we use the term reproductive health in the spirit of the International Conference on Population and Development, we are not talking only about health needs, but also about rights, empowerment and changing gender power relations that underlie or contribute to many of the reproductive health problems and conditions. Thus, reproductive health is not only a spectrum of conditions, but is also an approach.
A comprehensive review of the body of research on reproductive health in India carried out during 1990-1999 showed that while a significant contribution had been made in terms of documenting the reproductive and sexual health needs of women and men, there large gaps remained in terms of analysing the gender and social dimensions of reproductive health -causes, perceptions and consequences to women and men
To address this research gap, a small grants programme was undertaken by the Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum, Kerala. This was an effort to support research that would examine the gender and social causes that contribute to many reproductive health problems and conditions. The programme was supported by the Ford Foundation, India
A research competition was set up and eleven grantees were selected. Grantees were given financial support. In addition, a team of experts provided technical support to grantees throughout the programme, starting with reviewing the research proposals to implementing the research, analysis of information and report writing
This project was supported by the directorate of health services government of Kerala using a grant from the European Commission.
This study was conducted in five selected districts in Kerala.
Data was collected from 5000 selected households (3500 rural and 1500 urban). Information on antenatal care, delivery practices, immunization coverage, birth weight, awareness on sexually transmitted disease etc and utilization of health centres was collected using a pre-tested questionnaire.
One of the most important findings of this study was a reduction in immunization coverage from previous years particularly in the district of Malappuram where the oral polio vaccine third dose and Diphtheria Pertusis Tetanus (DPT) vaccine third dose was taken only by 50% of children aged 1-2 years where as in all the other districts studied the coverage was around 90%.
This could be one of the reasons why the only polio case from Kerala was reported from this district in the year 2002.
Dr K R Thankappan
Additional Professor and Head,
Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies,
Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum
Dr. P Sankara Sarma, Dr.V Mohanan Nair and Dr. Rajappan Pillai