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“Midwives’ role key to rural healthcare”

Staff Reporter

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad inaugurates ninth Asia-Pacific Midwives’ Conference


‘Though 9.3 lakh nurses, midwives were registered, only 40 per cent of them are active’

Another 3.8 lakh nurses and 1.5 lakh midwives needed to provide effective medical aid: Minister


— PHOTO: P.V.SIVAKUMAR

Honourable guest: Union Minister for Health Ghulam Nabi Azad and M. Prakasamma, chairperson of the 9th Asia Pacific Midwives’ conference arriving at the venue in Hyderabad on Thursday.

HYDERABAD: Union Minister for Health Ghulam Nabi Azad has emphasised the need to increase the number of nursing and midwifery professionals in the country to improve health services, particularly in rural areas. India has low nurse-population and nurse-physician ratios compared to other countries, he observed.

Inaugurating the four-day ninth Asia-Pacific Midwives’ Conference here on Thursday, he noted that though 9.3 lakh nurses and midwives were registered in the country only 40 per cent of them were active. Another 3.8 lakh nurses and 1.5 lakh midwives (auxiliary nursing midwives-ANMs) were needed to provide effective medical aid.

Services lauded

In order to strengthen the nursing and midwifery sector, Rs. 3,180 crore was allocated during the current Plan period and it was proposed to open 250 new ANM and GNM (general nursing and midwifery) schools. The country already had 1,926 GNM schools and 1,271 nursing (B.Sc) colleges with an intake of 1.44 lakh, the Minister explained.

Commending the role of midwives under difficult circumstances in remote areas in the absence of medical professionals the Minister said their services in immunisation programme, conducting deliveries and extending ante-natal and post-natal care were invaluable. He attributed the reduction of maternal mortality rate (MMR) from 301 per 1,00,000 births in 2001-03 to 254 in 2004-06 to the increasing role of midwives under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).

Achievements hailed

He hoped that MMR would come down further with the scaling up of interventions under NRHM and complimented Sri Lanka for reducing MMR significantly with nursing and midwifery skills. Experience of other countries was also inspiring India to strengthen its force of skilled and supported nurses and midwives.

Achievements

The NRHM had added over 7 lakh community health workers, 70,000 nurses and ANMs and 15,000 doctors during the last four years, Mr. Azad said, hailing the achievements of the mission.

Representative of International Confederation of Midwives for Asia Pacific region Karen Guilliland and conference chairperson M. Prakasamma also spoke.

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