Due to persistent undernutrition in India and the increased demands placed on a woman’s body during childbearing and lactation, the Indian government has implemented a program to provide supplemental nutrition packets to women in rural India. This study examines the factors influencing uptake of nutritional packets by lactating mothers in southern, rural Rajasthan. Women were recruited from 65 villages in Rajasthan, India (n=149, minimum of 2 per village) to evaluate the relationship of nutrition packet uptake and two factors--education levels and distance to the health center.
Level of education had little impact on whether or not women received the nutrition packet. Of those women with no education, 63.1% received the packet. Of those with any education, 63.9% got the packet.
In contrast, distance was strongly correlated with whether or not women received the packet. For example, of the women living within 200 meters of the health center, 93.2% received a nutrition packet. Of the women living between 250 meters and one kilometer of the health center, 68.4% received a nutrition packet. Of the women living over one kilometer from the health center, only 25% received a nutrition packet. The relationship between uptake of packets and women’s perception of distance to the health center was also explored. Out of 50 women who did not receive the packet, all of the women who said there was no health center in their village did live more than one kilometer from a health center. Of the women who lived between 250 meters and one kilometer from the health center, 40% felt it was too far. Of the women who lived more than a kilometer from the health center, 66.7% felt it was too far and 29.6% said there was no health center in their village. Again, it does not appear that ‘too far’ is just a default reason for women, but that actual distance, more so than education, is a major contributing factor in their ability to take the nutrition packet. These findings suggest that improving access to supplemental nutrition packets at the village level may increase uptake by the women.