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Glob Health Action. 2009 Mar 18;2. doi: 10.3402/gha.v2i0.1866.

Financial incentives to influence maternal mortality in a low-income setting: making available 'money to transport' - experiences from Amarpatan, India.

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Madhya Pradesh Basic Health Services Project, Bhopal, India.



Only 40.7% women in India deliver in an institution; leaving many vulnerable to maternal morbidity and mortality (India has 22% of global maternal deaths). While limited accessibility to functioning institutions may account in part, a common reason why women deliver at home is poverty. A lack of readily available financial resources for families to draw upon at the time of labor to transport the mother to an institution, is often observed. This paper reports a yearlong collaborative intervention (between the University and Department of Health) to study if providing readily available and easily accessible funds for emergency transportation would reduce maternal deaths in a rural, low income, and high maternal mortality setting in central India. It aimed to obviate a deterrent to emergency obstetric care; the non-availability of resources with mothers when most needed. Issues in implementation are also discussed.


Maternal deaths were actively identified in block Amarpatan (0.2 million population) over a 2-year period. The project, with participation from local government and other groups, trained 482 local health care providers (public and private) to provide antenatal care. Emergency transport money (in cash) was placed with one provider in each village. Maternal mortality in the adjacent block (Maihar) was followed (as a 'control' block).


Maternal deaths in Amarpatan decreased during the project year relative to the previous year, or in the control block the same year.


Issues in implementation of the cash incentive scheme are discussed. Although the intervention reduced maternal deaths in this low-income setting, chronic poverty and malnutrition are underlying structural problems that need to be addressed.


India; Maternal mortality; Reproductive health servcies

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