Last week, World Health Partners launched the first of five centers to connect rural women with local nurses and midwives, who will offer a range of women’s health and maternal health services, in Bihar, India. Click here to check out photos from the opening of the new center.
At these centers, when they are launched in Uttar Pradesh, India and in Kenya later this year, women will have ready access to:
- family planning services, including IUDs and injectable contraceptives,
- pre-natal, delivery, and post-natal care,
- medical abortion in the first trimester,
- general gynecological care, including consultations with a gynecologist,
- treatment for urinary tract infections, and
- cervical cancer screenings.
The new center decorated for opening day. See more photos of the center here.
“I believe this a huge step forward for women in underserved communities in Bihar and UP, India,” said Prachi Shukla, WHP Country Director. “Women in these communities may go without or wait too long to seek important care like prenatal care or family planning services. By opening these centers, we are bringing this essential, sometimes lifesaving care to them.”
The new midwife-nurse-led centers were started with the aim of employing some of the estimated 300,000 auxilary nurse-midwives (ANM) who graduate from Indian institutions every year. Most of training institutions are in the private sector and were established to help India grow its ratio of healthcare workers to patients. Although these institutions are registered and accredited, the training system does not adequately address the placement of graduates. Too often, newly trained nurse-midwives are employed in menial and underpaying jobs or sit idle, their skills going to waste. Similarly in Kenya, there are a number of unemployed and underemployed nurses who are willing to work in spots where doctors and clinical officers often refuse to operate.
WHP aims to correct this situation by connecting nurse-midwives with rural communities in desperate need of care and their skills through the new ANM centers. Using its already developed electronic platforms that can be deployed wherever 2G phones work, these nurses can connect with city-based doctors to enhance the range and quality of their services. The technology allows the doctors at the backend to get vital parameters such as heart and lung sounds through a stethoscope, blood pressure, fetal beats, hemoglobin levels, cardiac signals, pulse and temperature with the provision to add otoscope (to inspect ears), vaginoscope and dermascope (skin lesions).
In India, nurse-midwives can provide a variety of services ranging from gynecological care to various reproductive health care services, including family planning services.
With the Indian government’s move to strengthen family planning options with IUDs and injectable contraceptives, women in underserved communities will have greater access to the options if all nurse-midwives can put their training to use, particularly in rural communities.
This mobile-enabled network aims to sidestep the general reluctance of doctors to practice in rural or isolated communities, where the majority of the population lives.
The question remains, though, as to how these new centers will fare. We anticipate that the communities will use them and nurse-midwives will provide an alternative solution to offering good quality care in such low resource settings. We look forward to our findings of house connecting nurse-midwives to city-based doctors through our technology platform can help meet the needs of these underserved communities especially essential women’s, maternal, and child healthcare.