Principal Secretary, Health & Family Welfare Department, Sampath Kumar today said that the Meghalaya government is taking a systems approach by involving every stakeholder to address the problem of high Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) and Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) in the State.
He was speaking as chief guest at a one-day district level training of trainers workshop on ‘Basic Neonatal Resuscitation Programme- First Golden Minute’ held yesterday at Theresa School of Nursing, Ganesh Das Government MCH Hospital, Shillong. The workshop was conducted in collaboration with the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) and National Neonatology Forum.
“Community engagement has been at the centre of problem solving in this respect and therefore, realising this, the Village Health Councils (VHCs) have been initiated across the State where headmen, women-led self help groups and the community as a whole will play an important role. A movement to improve health indicators and bring down MMR and IMR is underway which is being spearheaded by the communities in the State,” Kumar said.
Further, he added that the traditional birth attendants are also being co opted into the health systems, realizing the fact that almost 40 per cent of deliveries take place at home, with the help of Traditional Birth attendants.
“Meghalaya has about 6400 villages and most villages are extremely hard to reach. Therefore under Meghalaya Chief Minister’s Safe Motherhood Scheme (CM-SMS), birthing places or transit homes are coming up where pregnant women from remote areas can stay, at least one week or 10 days before the expected date of delivery,” Kumar said.
According to him, these transit homes are strategically located near the health facilities. “Remote areas in districts like West Khasi Hills and South Garo Hills have seen significant reduction in MMR and IMR following this close collaboration between government and private stakeholders and the communities,” he said.
“We should work with a vision of having a single digit IMR in the next five years for Meghalaya. All efforts should be directed towards achieving this goal. In the 50th year of Meghalaya’s Statehood, we should work towards making Meghalaya one of the most developed States in India, while improving the SDG goals,” he added.
Kumar also extended gratitude to IAP and National Neonatology Forum for organising these trainings and expressed his appreciation for the collaboration of the government initiatives with professional organisations like the IAP and said that such collaborative efforts should also take place in many other domains to address other crucial development challenges.
It may be mentioned that historically, Meghalaya has faced challenges in bringing down its Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), but recent interventions by the State government in the form of ‘Rescue Mission’ to save the lives of mothers and children, which was launched in 2020 has begun to show gradual improvements in indicators.
Some important progress has been made towards reducing maternal deaths since the start of the Rescue Mission. This Mission further evolved into the Meghalaya Chief Minister’s Safe Motherhood Scheme (CM-SMS) which was launched in March 2022.
The Chief Minister’s Safe Motherhood Scheme is a result of a rigorous approach aimed at building Meghalaya’s State Capability to tackle the problem of maternal and infant deaths through the Rescue Mission, which was initiated in December 2020.
As part of this, granular monitoring of the problem was done through weekly reviews at the state, district, block and village level. This led to identification of six areas to be addressed on a mission mode, namely- Anemia and nutrition, safe delivery, right to birth spacing, teenage pregnancy and activating collaboration among key demand side and supply side stakeholders.
The workshop focused on basic resuscitation skills for newly born infants. Due to the frequent need for resuscitation after birth of a new born baby, it is critical to have evidence-based care guidelines and to train health providers for effective neonatal resuscitation.
With neonatal resuscitation training, healthcare professionals are better equipped to recognise a newborn in distress and begin treatment within 60 seconds. One minute can determine a life and a lifetime.
The resource persons who conducted the workshop were Dr. Hunsi Giri, NRP Course Coordinator along with NRP training instructors including Dr. Somsekhar Nimbalkar, Dr. Santanu Deb and Dr. Sabrina Yasmin. About 24 members, including nursing tutors, senior specialists, Medical Health Officers and Pediatricians attended the workshop.
In the workshop, training was given on how to resuscitate a newborn baby under various scenarios by Maternal Health experts. The various interventions that should be taken in case the baby does not begin to breathe within the first 60 seconds were also explained as well as demonstrated in a step-by-step manner.
This involved majorly, the use of a resuscitation bag and mask instrument for the resuscitation process. The trainers also emphasized on the importance of one-hour uninterrupted Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) or skin-to-skin contact between the mother and the newborn.
This training will equip the trainees to further train people in all birthing places across Meghalaya with a vision to bring down the IMR and MMR as well as the under five mortality rate.