Warangal, Andhra Pradesh: The Government Maternity Hospital in Hanumakonda, Warangal handles up to 15 deliveries every day — that’s about 450 per month or over 5000 per year.
But till some months back it lacked even the most basic neonatal equipment to tackle sick newborns. Newborn emergencies were rushed three kilometres away to the Paediatric Department of Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) Hospital.
The situation was similar for two other maternity hospitals in the district headquarter town of Warangal — CKM Maternity Hospital and Ursu Hospital.
The MGM Hospital had only a makeshift Sick Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) with no sanctioned staff. Only one out of seven warmers and two photo therapy units — to treat jaundiced babies — worked properly. Pediatricians and nurses struggled in two shifts to care for their small patients — around 40 babies at any given time.
UNICEF stepped up interventions in late 2007, aimed at reducing neonatal and maternal mortality in the district by improving maternal and newborn care through quality and timely treatment and promoting institutional delivery.
Beginning this June new born care in Warangal received a shot in the arm when District Collector and Magistrate, Mr. Janardhan Reddy in the presence of UNICEF Health Officer for the States of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Dr. Shalini Shah dedicated state-of-the-art new born care equipment worth Rs. 6.3 million, provided by UNICEF to strengthen the health services provided by the public sector in the district.
Dr. Janardhan Reddy thanked UNICEF for the new born care equipment and emphasized the importance of inter-sectoral coordination for the success of any national programme.
Citing the example of the Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illnesses (IMNCI) programme he highlighted the need for coordination between the Health Department and the Women & Child Welfare Department.
He expressed the confidence that the district would be able to achieve a target of nearly 100 per cent institutional deliveries by the end of the year.
Dr. Shalini Shah stressed the importance of the IMNCI’s three pronged strategy of skill building of health and nutrition workers, improving health facilities and improving family and community practices, particularly breast feeding practices.
New equipment has now been provided to Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital, Government Maternity Hospital (GMH), the CKM Maternity Hospital, the Ursu Hospital, the Area Hospitals, Community Health Centres (CHCs ) and all the 24-hour Primary Health Centres (PHCs ).
This equipment will increase the chances of low birth weight, sick and premature babies to survive their first days of life.
UNICEF in partnership with the district health authorities is also investing in skill building of all the health and nutrition workers in the 51 mandals (blocks) of the district through IMNCI.
This will improve the scheduled home visits of newborns and treating sick newborns or under five children, early referral and counseling the mother on breastfeeding, home care and nutrition of the child and improved management at the PHCs and referral hospitals.
Out of 4500 workers in the district, around 60 trainers and 740 workers have been trained so far and have started implementing the strategy. The training will be completed by 2009 with the help of multiple government and NGO partners.
The event ended with everybody present expressing confidence that with the state-of- the-art equipment supplied by UNICEF and the dedicated medical staff, Warangal would definitely achieve its goal of bringing down the Neonatal Mortality Rate (NMR), Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), and Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR).