When Vandana Vikhe, a government-appointed nurse, visited homes in Beldona village in Wardha district last month, she learnt that Papita Sarvoya (28) had missed her period.
Vikhe immediately conducted a pregnancy test. After getting a positive result, she took out her mobile phone and keyed in a message that read: “ANC 10001101,175,55,25,28-12-2009,2,1.” Decode it and you get an identification number — Sarvoya’s height, weight, age and the number/gender of previous children.
The moment Vikhe sent this message to a designated number, there was a beep on a computer in the Zilla Parishad office in Wardha city and Sarvoya’s details were added to a database.
Vikhe, who is attached to the local health centre in Beldona, will get SMS reminders every time a check-up is due for Sarvoya and when her delivery date is nearing.
Every pregnancy in 997 villages of Wardha district, which falls in the underdeveloped Vidarbha region, is being monitored in the same unique manner since January.
The state government had launched this SMS-based tracking system, which has been christened “Project Jeevandainee’, to ensure that pregnant women receive regular check-ups, have safe deliveries in hospitals and their babies are immunised on time.
“We hope to replicate the Wardha model in all districts,” said Sarvaree Gokhale, additional chief secretary (health).
She added that the new system, being implemented under the National Rural Health Mission, will help them reduce the
maternal and infant mortality rate in the state. Maternal deaths occur in 130 of every lakh live births in the state and infant deaths in 33 of every lakh live births, according to 2008 government records. In Wardha, more than 4,300 pregnancies have been registered already.
District Health Officer Dr Arun Amle said the system was especially useful in high-risk pregnancy cases. “We have identified 26 factors like high blood pressure that could lead to complications during pregnancy. Based on them, if the nurse finds that the woman is in the high-risk category, she has to send a particular message. This is automatically forwarded to the medical officer who heads the nearest Primary Health Centre,” he said. “He then has to conduct a thorough examination, refer to a bigger hospital if needed and send another SMS to confirm. If he doesn’t, his phone will keep beeping with reminders.”
Vikhe and 450 other ANMs (Auxillary Nurse Midwives) and medical officers in Wardha are already noticing the benefits of the new system. “Our paperwork has reduced and we don’t forget to check on any woman or child now,” said Vikhe.