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FOGSI for Better Clinical Care for Expectant Mothers

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Times of India
03 December 2010
By Umesh Isalkar
Pune, India

A nation–wide Save Mother and Newborn campaign designed by the Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI) will now aim to provide access to sophisticated clinical care to expectant mothers and their newborn, who were earlier deprived of such facilities. The campaign will be launched by Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in Hyderabad on January 7.

"The drive is an ambitious project of the FOGSI. It is unique as it is based on the lines of the Pulse Polio campaign which has been a great success in our country. This campaign, too, will mobilise every single pregnant mother to come out for health check–up to the nearest designated centre by paying door to door visits, thus creating awareness," senior gynaecologist Sanjay Gupte, president of the FOGSI told TOI on Thursday.

The campaign is aimed at improving the health seeking behaviour especially in remote rural areas. However unlike Pulse Polio, this campaign will be more intricate and covers a detailed health plan like nutrition, care during delivery, delivery planning and newborn care. A consortium of sorts has been formed with the help of Indian Paediatric Association (IPA) and Indian Midwife Association to make the campaign a success, he added.

Rural India suffers from a common problem – the lack of high–quality emergency obstetric and newborn care. For every 1,00,000 births, there are approximately 300 women who die in childbirth. And in a country of well over one billion people, that equates to about 1,00,000 women dying each year.

In India, medical colleges prepare specialist physicians to treat the complications associated with pregnancy and childbirth. These specialists are typically found in or near urban areas, leaving rural populations to be served mainly by general medical officers.

"India has a higher number of births (27 million), maternal deaths (about 1,17,100), and neonatal deaths (10,98,000) than any other country in the world each year. Although the maternal mortality ratio has decreased from about 700 to about 300 over the last 40 years, mortality reduction has been much slower in India than in Sri Lanka or Malaysia," said Gupte, adding, "Our campaign aims to reduce maternal mortality rate from 300 per lakh to 100 per lakh."

Elaborating on the implementation of the campaign, Gupte said, "Every two months, a day will be observed as the ‘Save the Mother India Day’, whereby pregnant women will undergo free check up at select facilities," said Gupte adding, "The campaign is a nation–wide three part evidence–based approach that focuses on ensuring antenatal care, supervised delivery and effective postnatal care to every pregnant woman and neonatal care to newborn in the country."

Gupte expressed hope that with a strength of over 25,000 health professionals, the FOGSI can act as a strong link between the Government of India and the mother and extend proper medical care during and after pregnancy.

Gupte said, "The first important component of the campaign is to provide screening for risk factors, mapping the delivery place and IEC (information, education and communication) of pregnant women. This will help reach women. The second component is to ensure delivery facility, which includes training and equipping the health workers."

Besides, the maternity centres will have clear–cut protocol based management to intervene exactly at the level where it is needed, Gupte added. "A majority of deaths, both maternal and neonatal, occur around the delivery. Of these, most of the deaths occur due to bleeding. Therefore, the third very important component is the postnatal care."

"We are also looking for active participation from corporate houses and celebrities as well as the media to make this campaign a national cause to truly help in saving thousands of dying mothers and newborns in our country," he said.

Need for the campaign
High maternal mortality rate is a stumbling block in our country’s growth progress. Today, in the list of countries with high maternal mortality rate, India ranks above Sri Lanka, Malaysia and China. Now, we are compared with the Sub–Saharan countries.

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