Grievance redressal: An example from Melghat, Maharashtra

The community monitoring programme is being implemented in Maharashtra since 2007. There is now the realization that with increased awareness on rights, there is a need for a grievance redressal mechanism to look into and resolve public grievances. Thus, over the last one year, block and district level Grievance Redressal Committees have been set up in selected districts.

The Takrar Nivaran Samiti or Grievance Redressal Committee in Dharani block, a tribal dominated area in Amravati district, is one such committee. The block has been in the news for high infant and child mortality. The Takrar Nivaran Samiti has the Taluk Health Officer, the Medical Superintendent of the Sub-district Hospital, a representative from the ICDS programme, the Sabhapati of the Panchayat Samiti, and representatives from both civil society and the media as its members. The committee meets once every 3-4 months to discuss and address grievances.

The committee receives grievances from both the community and health care providers and also takes cognizance of issues arising from the community monitoring process. Health care providers often reach out to the committee to promote community awareness on health services.

When a pregnant woman attending the sub-district hospital was found to have a very low haemoglobin level, the doctors referred her to the Amravati District Hospital, about four hours away. However, the woman and her husband refused to go as they said there was no one to take care of their children at home. The doctors sought help from the committee members. The members convinced the couple to go to the district hospital and simultaneously made arrangements for the care of the children. To ensure the woman received adequate care, one of the members regularly followed up with the Civil Surgeon at the District Hospital.

This highlights how a grievance redressal committee can foster community action much beyond just redressal of grievances, and can ensure better health outcomes.