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Rita Kabra

GFMER Coordinator for India

Rita Kabra
Dr. Rita Kabra
Reproductive/Maternal Health and Health System
GFMER Director - special focus Asia, Middle East
Email: rita.kabra@gfmer.org

Dr. Rita Kabra has over 20 years of experience in the field of sexual and reproductive health, maternal health, HIV and public health. She began her career as a clinician/researcher with Human Research Reproduction Centre, Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi and has worked In India for over 10 years in various capacities in area of sexual and reproductive health. She has extensive international experience having worked with WHO- Geneva for the last 12 years with the Departments of Reproductive health and Research, Making Pregnancy Safer and Health Systems. Dr. Kabra has managed and implemented a range of projects and programmes to improve reproductive health services and health systems, including assessing health workforce need and migration. She has wide experience in planning, conducting and supervising research to improve maternal health and strengthen health system. She has developed technical/policy/practice guidelines in sexual and reproductive health, maternal and newborn, integrating HIV/PMTCT, malaria, anaemia, etc and has regularly worked on the introduction, field testing, adaptation and implementation of the evidence based guidelines in many countries (Afghanistan, Cairo, Zambia, Uganda, India, and Morocco). She has wide experience in developing training manuals for implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programmes and in teaching and training undergraduates, medical doctors, nurses and midwives. Lately, she managed the Implementation Research Platform with the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research.


Medical council of India. She is a long-term member of the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI), The Family Planning Association of India (FPAI), National Association for Voluntary Sterilization and Family Welfare of India, London External Alumni Association. She has been associated in various capacities with several national and international research and academic organizations.


Dr. Kabra has several publications to her credit. She has chaired several scientific and other committees at national and international level. Rita holds a medical degree from the University of Rajasthan, India, a diploma in health systems management and a master’s in Public health from London University.

Current areas of interest

Health services management, primary health care, quality of care, maternal mortality reduction, integration of health services, financing for maternal health, operations research, linking research to policies and practices, retention and migration of health care workers.

Country situation of sexual and reproductive health

India with a population of more than 1 billion faces many challenges in the sexual and reproductive health of its citizens. Because maternal mortality is intrinsically hard to measure, estimates vary widely: The Indian government estimates that 301 maternal deaths occur per 100,000 live births, whereas the World Health Organization puts the estimate at 450. Nonetheless, available data suggest that maternal mortality is gradually decreasing. Indian women are staying in school longer than they once did, delaying marriage and increasing their use of effective contraceptives, and they increasingly want smaller families. The total fertility rate dropped from 3.4 births per woman in 1993 to 2.7 in 2006. This decline—which means lower lifetime exposure to the risks inherent in pregnancy and childbearing—appears to be an important factor in the decrease in maternal mortality. http://www.guttmacher.org/media/nr/2009/07/29/index.html

The leading causes of maternal death in India are hemorrhage, sepsis, complications of abortions and hypertensive disorders. The major causes of neonatal death are Infections, prematurity and birth asphyxia. More than half of women in India—55 percent—have anaemia, including 39 percent with mild anaemia and 2 percent with severe anaemia. http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/SR128/SR128.pdf

The key efforts to improve maternal health are encouraging institutional delivery, supporting emergency obstetric acre and training auxiliary nurse midwives and nurses to become skilled birth attendants. The main national programmes to improve SRH are:

  1. Reproductive and child health programmes. http://mohfw.nic.in/NRHM/RCH/Index.htm
  2. National rural health Mission. http://mohfw.nic.in/NRHM.htm
  3. Janani suraksha yojna, a part of NRHM. http://jknrhm.com/PDF/JSR.pdf
  4. The National Urban Health Mission seeks to address the health care needs of the rapidly growing urban population. http://www.uhrc.in/module-ContentExpress-display-ceid-95.html

The Lancet series- India towards Universal health Coverage2 presents in detail the challenges India is facing in improving the health and nutrition of its citizen  and  makes a case for  transformation of health services through effective stewardship, decentralized planning in districts, a reasoned approach to financing that affects demand for health care, a campaign to create awareness and change health and nutrition behavior, and revision of programmes for child nutrition on the basis of evidence. This agenda needs political commitment of the highest order and the development of a people’s movement. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(11)60638-7/fulltext

The census 2009 report: http://www.censusindia.gov.in/vital_statistics/SRS_Bulletins/Final-MMR%20Bulletin-2007-09_070711.pdf

Information on key indicators and trends for India and States/Union Territories is available at: http://www.rchiips.org/pdf/rch3/state/India.pdf, http://www.mohfw.nic.in/

Candidates from India who took the SRH/GFMER course in past

Online presentations