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Maternal and Newborn Survival Initiative (MANSI) Saves Babies and Mothers in Rural India

by American India Foundation

Despite India’s rapid economic growth over the last decade, the nation has the highest number of newborn, child and maternal deaths in the world. In 2012, 779,000 babies in India died in their first month of life, accounting for more than a quarter of the global burden; 1.4 million children under age 5 died, comprising 22 percent of the global burden; and in 2010, 56,000 Indian mothers died from pregnancy or birth-related causes, accounting for 19 percent of maternal deaths globally. India’s maternal and child death rates are high with 212 maternal deaths per 100,000 births and 56 deaths per 1,000 live births.

The rural and tribal areas suffer the highest risk because of low access to quality health care services.  But a program in an area that has among the highest maternal and child mortality  is making a difference.

In 2009, the American India Foundation (AIF) launched the Maternal and Newborn Survival Initiative (MANSI), a public-private partnership designed to reduce maternal and child deaths through local health system improvements and expanded health access in the Seraikela block of Seraikela-Kharsawan district in Jharkhand—which has one of the highest rates of maternal and child mortality. The core of the MANSI model is local female community health workers, or Sahiyyas. Trained in proven, low-cost, low-technology interventions to save mothers and newborns during pregnancy, at birth and immediately after birth, the Sahiyyas can assess newborns for birth weight and signs of illness and ensure immediate and hygienic care. The Sahiyyas are supervised in the field by a team of Maternal and Newborn Health Mobilizers (MNHMs), who provide management, coordination and implementation support.  

As of March 2013, MANSI has served 11,532 women and 11,428 infants and children under age 5.  The program, according to our statistics, has reduced the neonatal death rate by 20 percent and stillbirth rate by 16 percent in the area. Additionally, MANSI has increased the percentage of babies delivered in health facilities (as opposed to home deliveries) from 211 percent to 76 percent. Based on MANSI’s success, AIF is planning to scale-up the program in additional locations throughout the country with existing and new partners.

AIF’s strategic partners for MANSI include Tata Steel Rural Development Society (TSRDS), which engages and influences the corporate sector in long-term, health-related efforts within the community; the Society for Education, Action, and Research in Community Health (SEARCH) Gadchiroli, which brings a globally-recognized and proven research-driven technical expertise; and the local government and community leaders who ensure sustainability and impact.

AIF is committed to catalyzing social and economic change in India and building a lasting bridge between the United States and India through high-impact interventions in education, livelihoods, public health and leadership development. Working closely with local communities, AIF partners with NGOs to develop and test innovative solutions and with governments to create and scale sustainable impact. Founded in 2001 as an initiative of President Bill Clinton, AIF has impacted the lives of more than 1.9 million of India’s poor and aims to reach 5 million by 2018. Learn more at

For more details on MANSI or if you’d like to partner with AIF on MANSI, please contact Ms. Mugdha Gangopadhyay, Development Officer at AIF ( 

1. International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), 2010. District Level Household and Facility Survey (DLHS-3), 2007-08: India. Mumbai: IIPS.