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      Socioeconomic inequalities in stillbirth and neonatal mortality rates: evidence on Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups in eastern India


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          Tribal peoples are among the most marginalised groups worldwide. Evidence on birth outcomes in these groups is scant. We describe inequalities in Stillbirth Rate (SBR), Neonatal Mortality Rate (NMR), and uptake of maternal and newborn health services between tribal and less disadvantaged groups in eastern India, and examine the contribution of poverty and education to these inequalities.


          We used data from a demographic surveillance system covering a 1 million population in Jharkhand State (March 2017 – August 2019) to describe SBR, NMR, and service uptake. We used logistic regression analysis combined with Stata’s adjrr-command to estimate absolute and relative inequalities by caste/tribe (comparing Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) and other Scheduled Tribes (ST) with the less marginalised Other Backward Class (OBC)/none, using the Indian government classification), and by maternal education and household wealth.


          PVTGs had a higher NMR (59/1000) than OBC/none (31/1000) (rate ratio (RR): 1.92, 95%CI: 1.55–2.38). This was partly explained by wealth and education, but inequalities remained large after adjustment (adjusted RR: 1.59, 95%CI: 1.28–1.98). NMR was also higher among other STs (44/1000), but disparities were smaller (RR: 1.47, 95%CI: 1.23–1.75). There was a systematic gradient in NMR by maternal education and household wealth. SBRs were only higher in poorer groups (RR poorest vs. least poor:1.56, 95%CI: 1.14–2.13). Uptake of facility-based services was low among PVTGs (e.g. institutional birth: 25% vs. 69% in OBC/none) and among poorer and less educated women. However, 65% of PVTG women with an institutional birth used a maternity vehicle vs. 34% among OBC/none. Visits from frontline workers (Accredited Social Health Activists [ASHAs]) were similar across groups, and ASHA accompaniment of institutional births was similar across caste/tribe groups, and higher among poorer and less educated women. Attendance in participatory women’s groups was similar across caste/tribe groups, and somewhat higher among richer and better educated women.


          PVTGs are highly disadvantaged in terms of birth outcomes. Targeted interventions that reduce geographical barriers to facility-based care and address root causes of high poverty and low education in PVTGs are a priority. For population-level impact, they are to be combined with broader policies to reduce socio-economic mortality inequalities. Community-based interventions reach disadvantaged groups and have potential to reduce the mortality gap.

          Supplementary Information

          The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1186/s12939-022-01655-y.

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          Estimating wealth effects without expenditure data—or tears: An application to educational enrollments in states of India

          Using data from India, we estimate the relationship between household wealth and children’s school enrollment. We proxy wealth by constructing a linear index from asset ownership indicators, using principal-components analysis to derive weights. In Indian data this index is robust to the assets included, and produces internally coherent results. State-level results correspond well to independent data on per capita output and poverty. To validate the method and to show that the asset index predicts enrollments as accurately as expenditures, or more so, we use data sets from Indonesia, Pakistan, and Nepal that contain information on both expenditures and assets. The results show large, variable wealth gaps in children’s enrollment across Indian states. On average a “rich” child is 31 percentage points more likely to be enrolled than a “poor” child, but this gap varies from only 4.6 percentage points in Kerala to 38.2 in Uttar Pradesh and 42.6 in Bihar.
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            Indigenous and tribal peoples' health (The Lancet-Lowitja Institute Global Collaboration): a population study.

            International studies of the health of Indigenous and tribal peoples provide important public health insights. Reliable data are required for the development of policy and health services. Previous studies document poorer outcomes for Indigenous peoples compared with benchmark populations, but have been restricted in their coverage of countries or the range of health indicators. Our objective is to describe the health and social status of Indigenous and tribal peoples relative to benchmark populations from a sample of countries.
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              Effect of a participatory intervention with women's groups on birth outcomes and maternal depression in Jharkhand and Orissa, India: a cluster-randomised controlled trial.

              Community mobilisation through participatory women's groups might improve birth outcomes in poor rural communities. We therefore assessed this approach in a largely tribal and rural population in three districts in eastern India. From 36 clusters in Jharkhand and Orissa, with an estimated population of 228 186, we assigned 18 clusters to intervention or control using stratified randomisation. Women were eligible to participate if they were aged 15-49 years, residing in the project area, and had given birth during the study. In intervention clusters, a facilitator convened 13 groups every month to support participatory action and learning for women, and facilitated the development and implementation of strategies to address maternal and newborn health problems. The primary outcomes were reductions in neonatal mortality rate (NMR) and maternal depression scores. Analysis was by intention to treat. This trial is registered as an International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial, number ISRCTN21817853. After baseline surveillance of 4692 births, we monitored outcomes for 19 030 births during 3 years (2005-08). NMRs per 1000 were 55.6, 37.1, and 36.3 during the first, second, and third years, respectively, in intervention clusters, and 53.4, 59.6, and 64.3, respectively, in control clusters. NMR was 32% lower in intervention clusters adjusted for clustering, stratification, and baseline differences (odds ratio 0.68, 95% CI 0.59-0.78) during the 3 years, and 45% lower in years 2 and 3 (0.55, 0.46-0.66). Although we did not note a significant effect on maternal depression overall, reduction in moderate depression was 57% in year 3 (0.43, 0.23-0.80). This intervention could be used with or as a potential alternative to health-worker-led interventions, and presents new opportunities for policy makers to improve maternal and newborn health outcomes in poor populations. Health Foundation, UK Department for International Development, Wellcome Trust, and the Big Lottery Fund (UK). Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                425066sb@eur.nl , s.busch@erasmusmc.nl
                Int J Equity Health
                Int J Equity Health
                International Journal for Equity in Health
                BioMed Central (London )
                6 May 2022
                6 May 2022
                : 21
                : 61
                [1 ]GRID grid.5645.2, ISNI 000000040459992X, Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, , University Medical Centre Rotterdam, ; Rotterdam, The Netherlands
                [2 ]GRID grid.452480.f, Ekjut, ; Chakradharpur, Jharkhand India
                [3 ]GRID grid.83440.3b, ISNI 0000000121901201, Institute for Global Health, , University College London, ; London, UK
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                © The Author(s) 2022

                Open AccessThis article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

                : 13 October 2021
                : 28 March 2022
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100005416, Norges Forskningsråd;
                Award ID: 288638
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                © The Author(s) 2022

                Health & Social care
                indigenous health,inequalities,india,neonatal mortality,stillbirth,maternity care
                Health & Social care
                indigenous health, inequalities, india, neonatal mortality, stillbirth, maternity care


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