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Using Learning Loop to redefine social indicators

Subbanaicker Krishnaswamy
FHI360, India

Team Leader (Public Health, Nutrition and Water, Sanitation & Hygiene)

A learning loop plan for the state infant and mother health and nutrition programme managed by MPTAST.
A learning loop plan for the state infant and mother health and nutrition program managed by MPTAST.



I head the MPTAST that gives technical assistance and management support to Government of Madhya Pradesh, a central Indian State, covering the areas of Health and Family Welfare (Public Health), Women Child Development (Nutrition) and Panchayati Raj and Rural Development (WASH).

The problem I was trying to tackle is that of under reporting/non-reporting of maternal and child deaths, which are crucial social indicators of Public Health & Nutrition. This under reporting/ non-reporting leads to an even bigger problem of hampering corrective measures that could actually help reduce the numbers of maternal and child deaths.

Why and How we used the tool

I used the Learning Loop with the participation of all the stake holders involved in finding a solution. The Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) specialist along with my service delivery personnel visited one of the pilot districts to find out the possible channels for reporting the deaths of mothers and children more quickly. This was discussed with various stakeholders – grassroots health care workers, village level volunteers and the village level nutrition workers to establish their awareness levels and the reasons for not reporting these cases.


Results of using the tool

We then worked with the MCTS (Mother & Child Tracking System), which is an online monitoring software, developed by Government of India with an objective to track the different services being provided/ to be provided to a pregnant mother right from conception until when the baby is one year old. The problem and our learnings from the pilot district was then discussed with the District health authorities who agreed to try out a new system. The new system was also proposed to the state leadership, who readily agreed to it for monitoring maternal and child deaths. This would help in understanding the intra and inter district differentials and the factors that possibly contribute to this phenomenon and alert the authorities for taking timely action. This is a good tool that spells out the inter-relatedness of a social phenomenon and how to address them in a very succinct manner. One can use it literally for any social indicator that requires an innovative solution.

We will be rolling out the concept very soon and are in the process of refining the concept for buy-in from the State government, based on the pilot results from one district.


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