India takes a new initiative that aims to tackle the menace of high maternal mortality rate by providing basic maternal health care training to health workers at grass root level was announced.
The initiative "Helping Mothers Survive" will train lower-level medical assistants and staff and educate them in maternal healthcare in an aim to shift the task of preventing maternal mortality to the frontline.
An innovative birth simulator - the MammaNatalle - will be used to train individuals such as nurses, health officials and even ambulance drivers, on fulfilling the most basic of maternal healthcare needs, hence expanding the base of healthcare providers to women giving birth.
The initiative was launched jointly by the Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI) in association with the South Asian Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (SAFOG) and the John Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynaecology and Obstetrics (JHPIEGO).
"Maternal mortality is one of India's biggest problems which need greater attention. These can be easily curtailed through simple measures like cheap magnesium sulphate injections. However, there is lack of training and knowledge to implement these measures," said FOGSI president Hema Divakar.
FOGSI represents over 27,000 practitioners of obstetrics and gynaecology in India.
India's Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) is currently one of the highest in the world, at a rate of 236 deaths per 100,000, in comparison to an average of 16 for developing countries.
"There is a great need for expanding the base of skilled professionals who can help in maternal healthcare. There are currently only around 27,000 gynaecologists and professionals in maternal healthcare in India. This is completely insufficient to handle the sheer volume of births that take place every day in the country," Divakar added.
According to the UN Millennium Development Goals, the MMR should reduce at a rate of 5.5 percent annually, yet, in India the rate is only 2.3 percent.