Introduction. The main challenge for achieving universal health coverage in India is ensuring effective coverage of poor and vulnerable communities in the face of high levels of income and gender inequity in access to health care. Drawing on the social capital generated through women's participation in community organizations like SHGs can influence health outcomes. To date, evidence about the impact of SHGs on health outcomes has been derived from pilot-level interventions, some using randomised controlled trials and other rigorous methods. While the evidence from these studies is convincing, our study is the first to analyse the impact of SHGs at national level. Methods. We analyzed the entire dataset from the third national District Level Household Survey from 601 districts in India to assess the impact of the presence of SHGs on maternal health service uptake. The primary predictor variable was presence of a SHG in the village. The outcome variables were: institutional delivery; feeding new-borns colostrum; knowledge about family planning methods; and ever used family planning. We controlled for respondent education, wealth, heard or seen health messages, availability of health facilities and the existence of a village health and sanitation committee. Results: Stepwise logistic regression shows respondents from villages with a SHG were 19 per cent (OR: 1.19, CI: 1.13-1.24) more likely to have delivered in an institution, 8 per cent (OR: 1.08, CI: 1.05-1.14) more likely to have fed newborns colostrum, have knowledge (OR: 1.48, CI 1.39 - 1.57) and utilized (OR: 1.19, CI 1.11 - 1.27) family planning products and services. These results are significant after controlling for individual and village-level heterogeneities and are consistent with existing literature that the social capital generated through women's participation in SHGs influences health outcome. Conclusion: The study concludes that the presence of SHGs in a village is associated with higher knowledge of family planning and maternal health service uptake in rural India. To achieve the goal of improving public health nationally, there is a need to understand more fully the benefits of systematic collaboration between the public health community and these grassroots organizations. © 2013 Saha et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Saha, S., Annear, P. L., & Pathak, S. (2013). The effect of Self-Help Groups on access to maternal health services: Evidence from rural India. International Journal for Equity in Health, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-9276-12-36