Baby care team checking baby and their mother at their home. The follow up becomes necessary to ensure the baby grows with correct weight.(HT Photo)
Baby care team checking baby and their mother at their home. The follow up becomes necessary to ensure the baby grows with correct weight.(HT Photo)

UP: A new chapter in newborn health care in villages

Scripting change: Baby care teams visit homes in remote villages of Rae Bareli, checking the health of babies with low birth weight
By Gaurav Saigal | Hindustan Times, Lucknow, Lucknow
PUBLISHED ON JUL 19, 2018 03:49 PM IST

Making the crucial difference between life and death, baby care teams are now changing the manner in which newborns with low birth weight are treated in remote villages across Rae Bareli district, ensuring that the infants make a safe and healthy start to life.

The baby care team comprises five medical staff -- doctor, staff nurse, block level NHM worker, auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) and accredited social health activist (ASHA) – that visits homes with the Gram Pradhan after the baby is discharged from the community health centres and checks on the health of the baby and the mother.

High infant mortality

India accounts for a quarter of the annual newborn deaths in the world and within India, Uttar Pradesh accounts for a quarter of the newborn deaths.

Uttar Pradesh is a state where public health system struggles to deliver quality care to the large number of mothers and newborns. In this setting, it is widely held that the best ideas come from the top and unless such initiatives are driven from the top downwards, the doctors and staff would not implement them of their own volition.

From the side of the community, it is believed that no one cares for them in the government and even to get basic health services means a lot of hardships. If they could afford to, they would not go to a public health facility.

“Such an effort is being made for the first time to make sure babies with low birth weight who are discharged get treatment and right care even at home, which often becomes difficult for the mother once she reaches the village,” said Raghav Krishna, director, social impact, at the community empowerment lab, a community entrenched scientific research and innovation organisation based in Shivgarh. Krishna is coordinating the baby care team visits.

At the CHC, these babies are first kept in the Kangaroo Care Lounge, a place where the mother learns and gives skin-to-skin care and exclusive breastfeeding to the child until the weight is achieved. But the follow-up becomes necessary to ensure the baby grows with correct weight. The concept is to give two visits to each child in the first month of life.

This idea of a baby care team was first suggested by the medical officer in charge (MOIC) of Shivgarh CHC in Rae Bareli and when it was discussed with other MOICs in the district, Dalmau CHC formed a baby care team immediately and visited the first newborn the very next day at its home.

“Such an initiative is unheard of in Uttar Pradesh because it has never been thought that doctors and frontline health workers would of their own volition venture out to such places in service of the public. In a state struggling to attract pediatricians to work in rural areas, here is a team that is actively caring for these rural newborns and mothers,” said Raghav.

Since July 1, Shivgarh, Dalmau, Kheero, Maharajganj and Bachchrawan CHCs have all started baby care teams which visit newborns with low birth weight on a weekly basis. Other CHCs in Rae Bareli are in the process of starting such teams.

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