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Protecting Health, Saving Lives—Millions at a Time



Uthalben is teaching herself how to embroider. Within 10 years, she will become engaged. As a large part of her dowry, she will be expected to offer her husband’s family 15-20 elaborately embroidered kanjaris (backless apron-like tops worn by all married women in the region) as a demonstration of her domestic aptitude. Women in the region of Kutch in western India generally marry between the ages of 16 and 20, and family sizes are quite large. A predominantly Muslim community, contraception is rarely used, and women spend a significant proportion of their reproductive years pregnant. For this reason, women are often taking several medications such as calcium, multivitamins, iron, and folic acid supplements to attempt to improve their nutritional status before delivery. With so many medications prescribed (often supplied with written and oral dosing instructions) it can be difficult for illiterate women to recall the correct information.

With an MPH Field Experience grant from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, I had the opportunity to work with a local NGO to develop a new system using pictures to communicate this medical information to low-literate women. Our hope was that the pictorial materials would not only increase comprehension of medical instructions among these women, but also empower them to become agents of their own health.

Anjali Dotson, Recipient of MPH Field Experience Fund Award, January 2009