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Better Births Initiative project all set to cover new ground

Special Correspondent

Testimonies from Village Health Nurses, Auxiliary Nurse Midwives



WEALTH OF EXPERIENCE: Muni Kannamma, a village health nurse in Tiruvallur, shares her experience at a workshop in Chennai on Tuesday. To her left is Supriya Sahu, Additional Secretary, Health Department and M. Mutia Kalaivanan, Commissioner for MCH & Welfare and Project Director, RCH Project. — Photo: V.Ganesan

CHENNAI: Encouraged by a falling maternal mortality rate, the `Better Births Initiative', a project of the State Government's Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) Project and the UNICEF, is all set to pay attention to detail, according to Health Department officials.

Testimonies from Village Health Nurses (VHN) and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANM) at a workshop on Wednesday proved how the State achieved a 25 per cent reduction in MMR (the number of deaths per lakh live births).

Munikannamma, who has been working as a VHN for the past 35 years in the health sub-centre at Radhakrishnarajapet, Tiruvallur, said she conducted 18,000 deliveries, all of them successfully, following the best practices and establishing a rapport with the mother and her family.

P. Padmanabhan, joint director, RCH project, said the commonly followed practice of performing episiotomies (making a cut in the perineum to facilitate delivery) would be given up, as it offered no benefits and increased chances of infection and prolonged discomfort for the mother.

Unnecessary episiotomies

As the VHNs narrated their experience, it became clear that the public welcomed doing away with unnecessary episiotomies.

Health Secretary Sheela Rani Chunkath said the aim of the initiative was to make delivery pleasant for the mother.

Tamil Nadu had made much progress in healthcare delivery and inspired confidence among the public, leading to a rise in institutional deliveries.

She congratulated the VHNs, ANMs and District Collectors who conducted regular verbal autopsies (in case of a maternal death) on the significant achievement. It was time to remove even minor inconveniences the pregnant women faced during delivery.

Additional Health Secretary Supriya Sahu said all stakeholders had an important role to play in the "Better Births Initiative" and had to treat the mother with respect and dignity.

The World Bank recognised the Tamil Nadu initiative to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity.

Thirty-six government hospitals would soon have well-equipped maternity blocks, along with emergency ambulance service and easily accessible helpline.

The Government would establish counselling centres in government hospitals in partnership with the NGOs to provide information and counselling to family members.

Health Minister Thalavai Sundaram distributed accreditation certificates to representatives of 35 Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care Centres.

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