To save infants, Assam ropes in grannies | india | Hindustan Times
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To save infants, Assam ropes in grannies

india Updated: Jul 08, 2009 00:48 IST
Rahul Karmakar
Rahul Karmakar
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Need some time-tested wisdom on pre-natal and infant care? If you are in Assam, ‘friendly’ grandmas will tell it all at government hospitals.

Assam has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. In 2007, it recorded 66 infant deaths per million births against the national figure of 55.

The health department has come out with a number of schemes to bring down the figure.

Sakhi (friend) is a one-year pilot project. Grandmas or elderly village women well-versed with the traditional methods of care for newborns and their mothers are hired on contract basis. They provide tips to mothers-to-be in hospitals.

“The idea is to dovetail age-old baby care methods with modern techniques,” Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told Hindustan Times.

Only a couple of hospitals will have two Sakhis each. “We do not want to end up with another appointment scheme, and would also like to see how it pans out for a year,” Sarma said.

The government was also looking into appointing younger, home science-trained women as Sakhis in the next 100 days.

Mamata is a gift scheme designed for rural areas. To ensure that the newborn stays in hospital care at least 48 hours after birth, a baby blanket, towel and other baby things are presented to the mother.

“The chances of infection are higher if infants are not kept in sanitised hospitals for two days after birth,” the minister said. Researchers had found that leaving hospital immediately after childbirth was adding to Assam’s infant mortality rate, he said.

Cashless health card will get below poverty line families free treatment in government or accredited hospitals of up to Rs 25,000 every year. A nominal Rs 30 has to paid towards insurance premium.