Focus: Women, Health, Children and Youth

MOST of the yearly 289,000 pregnancy and childbirth related deaths in India occur as vulnerable women lack access to antenatal care and education. SNEHA address this by improving the health of mother and child.

Many women, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds, go through high-risk pregnancies and childbirths. Without intervention, this cycle of poor health is passed on to their newborns which negatively impacts their physical and cognitive development.
Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action (SNEHA) strive to break this inter-generational circle of ill-health by strengthening delivery of public health services and raising community awareness of these services.

In 2004 SNEHA developed a maternal referral system to improve municipal health services in Mumbai - to prevent facilities from being overburdened, ensure adherence to protocols, and provide enhanced quality of services to urban poor women and children.

Take 30-year-old Naina*, who was nine months into her fourth pregnancy when a SNEHA field worker met her and realised she had not gone for all her antenatal check-ups, nor had she registered for an institutional delivery.

Neither Naina nor her husband understood the grave risks associated with their neglectful attitude and reluctance to adhere to these procedures. After the field worker counselled the couple and made them aware of the potential dangers, Naina was admitted to hospital and gave birth to a healthy baby.

According to their latest figures, 52,000 pregnant women with complications were assisted through the referral system, and the underweight status of children improved from 18% to 11% in their intervention areas.

SNEHA also encourage communities to break the silence around violence against women by working with victims through counselling and legal aid.

One of their programmes focuses on empowering adolescent girls and boys - a vulnerable age of physical, mental and emotional changes. This is magnified for young people in Mumbai's slums who lack awareness and access to resources on health, gender and sexuality.

SNEHA strongly believe that a healthy world begins with a healthy woman. Support SNEHA in strengthening the very foundation of a strong India.

* Name changed to protect her identity

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Maternal & Newborn Health

SNEHA work to improve quality of health care in public health systems and educate pregnant women and their families so as to improve their health-seeking behaviour. They established the maternal referral system in 2004 to ensure urban poor women, especially high risk pregnant women get appropriate and timely care.

Child Health & Nutrition

WITH a specific focus on acute child malnutrition, SNEHA work with communities to create teams of volunteers who take ownership of health issues and public infrastructure to improve child health and nutrition services. They have treated over 32,000 children under the age of 5 and have reduced malnutrition by 28% in children aged 0-3 years in their intervention areas.

Prevention of Violence

IN their bid to prevent violence against women and children, SNEHA provide counselling and crisis intervention for survivors of violence. With their award-winning Little Sister App mobile application, community volunteers map and track cases of violence. They also train police and public health staff to improve institutional responses to gender violence.

Adolescent Health & Sexuality

SNEHA train adolescents on vocational skills and link them to employment opportunities, and educate them on sexual & reproductive health and gender equity. Their programme focuses on building adolescents' digital skills so as to help express themselves through activities like video-making and podcasts. They have worked with over 13,000 adolescents across Mumbai.


SNEHA has worked closely with us to empower our community workers to not only become agents of mother and child health, but in cultivating their leadership and influence to impact sustainable behaviour change.

Urja Shah, President, Setco Foundation, Mumbai

We have been adopting an integrated approach to address malnutrition in children, maternal and child health issues, and domestic violence against children and women. Through our partnership with SNEHA, we have made a meaningful impact on the community.

Surekha Shenoy, COO-India GIC's, Morgan Stanley, Mumbai

In marginalised communities, NGOs strive to positively influence their well-being - and aim to do so by not duplicating the effort of the government, rather by working with the system. SNEHA has the rare distinction of doing this effectively.

Rukmini Datta, former Operations Head, Cipla Foundation, Mumbai

My life has taken a long, bright turn, ever since I came to SNEHA for the Nurse-Aide course. My life has changed in a way, I would have never believed, it would.

Radha S., beneficiary, Mumbai

Now I understand and can converse in broken English. I will complete the nurse-aide course. I would like to tell other girls: don’t stop, stay in the course, do what you want, you will get support from the SNEHA team, you will get what you want.

Kanchan, beneficiary, Mumbai

I'm really grateful to SNEHA for giving me the opportunity to step closer to my dream. My only dream is to offer the help I couldn't offer to my mother to others who need it just as much.

Preetam P., beneficiary, Mumbai

  • Armida Fernandez Founder-Trustee
  • Vanessa D'Souza CEO
  • Shanti Pantvaidya Executive Director
  • Nayreen Daruwalla Programme Director
  • Neena Shah More Programme Director
  • Sushma Shende Programme Director
  • Rama Shyam Programme Director
  • Archana Bagra Director - Finance
  • Anuja Jayaraman Director - Research