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  • Published on:
    Contextual factors influencing village health sanitation and nutrition committees in India
    • Mahesh Devnani, Assistant Professor of Hospital Administration Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India

    I read with interest the abstract on contextual factors influencing village health sanitation and nutrition committee (VHSNC)[1]. The authors mention that none of the 50 VHSNCs in their study received the “untied funds” (Rs.10,000/- per annum) during 18 months of study period. These funds are provided to empower the VHSNCs to address immediate health needs of the community, and to stimulate local action towards raising health awareness and organising village level meetings, sanitation drives and other identified health need. As VHSNCs are expected to leverage funds from other sources, it would have been useful to know how much additional amount these VHSNCs under study were able to generate on their own?

    From my personal experience I can say that two contextual factors play key role in success of any such schemes in rural India: a) local village politics, and b) corruption. Authors have mentioned that many VHSNCs were unable to engage crucial elected representatives (Sarpanchs) and instead had to work with the lowest level elected representative (Ward-Panchayat), thereby having little influence. One of the possible reasons for this could be that Sarpanchs despite knowing that VHSNC is a subcommittee of Panchayat, might have viewed it as a parallel authority diluting their role especially as the chairperson of VHSNC has to be a female ward-Panchayat preferably from underprivileged sections of society. 

    This becomes more evident if the chairm...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.