Doctors for low-cost devices to reduce maternal mortality

Bangalore, Jun 11 (IANS): Specialist doctors favour low-cost devices to reduce maternal mortality and ensure better healthcare for women in India.

"By using low-cost devices, quality healthcare can be provided to reduce the maternal mortality ratio in our country, where divergent people live in remote and inaccessible areas," a leading practitioner said at a medical conference here late Monday.

On a pilot basis, the Federation of Obstetrics & Gynecologists Societies has introduced low-cost devices in partnership with Jhpiego, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, to train doctors in modern reproductive system and demonstrate the benefits of smart technology.

"There is an urgent need for low-cost technology to provide quality healthcare services in distant and remote areas where trained medical staff are inadequate," Jhpiego vice president Harshad Sanghvi told about 500 delegates at the World Congress on Obstetrics and Gynaecologists.

Jhpiego has developed a labour monitoring tool, a hand-held device that allows recording of clinical observations, predictions of complications and quick decision-making.

The device includes a sensor module for partial automation of data collection and a telemedicine module to allow midwives seek guidance from distant clinicians.

"The electronic partogram supports main workers and brings essential services to women. We also collaborated with the (state-run) National institute of Design in Ahmedabad to produce better user interfaces," Sanghvi pointed out.

Similarly, Jhpiego developed another low cost device - HemoGlobe - to detect anaemia among women without drawing blood.

The device, developed in collaboration with the bio-engineering centre at John Hopkins, has been designed to convert mobile phones of health workers into a 'prick-free' system for detecting anaemia at the community level.

India has reduced the maternal mortality ratio to 254 for every 100,000 births during the past decade though any preventable maternal death is one too many.

According to federation president Hema Divakar, maternal death is a serious concern and the direct causes were haemorrhage (38 percent), sepsis (11 percent), hypertensive disorders (five percent) and abortion (eight percent), a category that can include indirect causes such as anaemia.

"In the labour room, we are always fighting to save two lives - mother and baby. With our population growing exponentially, technology plays a vital role in ensuring quality healthcare services," Divakar observed.

The federation has also launched a fast track initiative - 'Helping Mothers Survive' (HMS) - to reduce the maternal mortality ratio.

The three-day congress of the specialist doctors deliberated on women's health-related such as infertility management, challenges in setting up low-cost fertile centre, scarless surgery, infertility practices and high-risk pregnancy.

With 219 member societies and about 27,000 members from across the country, the 63-year-old federation is the largest apex body representing practitioners of obstetrics and gynaecology across the country.


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