Influence of Culture on Maternal and Child Health Condition

Published in Sree Chaitanya College, Habra, 2019

Recommended citation: Chakrabarty S. (2019).

It is widely acknowledged that India remains a land of varied cultural diversities. There are approximately 450 ethno-linguistic culture groups and over 2,300 ethnic groups when caste, religion and cultural factors are considered. Now a major thrust area of national policy making lies on the incorporation of cultural factors in health policies that specifically plan for maternal and child health condition in the national level. The variety of maternal and child health status varies differently in various socio-cultural groups at both national as well as regional levels, specifically among the indigenous groups in India. Here a policy maker may ask the question, how do these vary? In order to understand these questions, the present study aims to investigate the distinct patterns of different biological and demographic parameters of maternal and child health condition and also to understand the associated socio-cultural factors on the aforesaid issues. The national as well as regional level cross-section data are used in this study to understand the situation. The national level data used is mainly based on National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4). Other than this, regional studies conducted for the last 10 years on indigenous people (like the Scheduled tribes in India) have also been considered for the present analysis. The results reveal that maternal care indicators during child birth have significantly developed for the last decade. Though child immunization was initiated in a very high rate (91.9%) but only 62% of them completed the total medical course with full vaccination. Equally, it seems that the major problem of maternal and child health in national level remains undernutrition and anaemia. Other factors apart from low socio-economic condition may be pointed out as well. These cultural factors are: early marriage, dowry, gender discrimination; preference for sons and cultural practices associated with the same choice also remain hidden factors for the aforesaid condition. Comparatively, the Scheduled Tribes of India have also been shown in worst position in all the parameters of maternal and child health condition in every Indian region. However, recent life style changes within these tribes indicate that over-nutrition and its related health problems equally affect the tribal population generally. Therefore, this study suggests that developing inclusive strategies by involving cultural specific intervention as well as training may be important steps for national and regional-based health planning in India. This approach is also seconded by World Health Organization (WHO). (Accepted)