Health Policy

E-venture rings in health for mothers

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A unique government-run call centre backed by an online registration system to keep tabs on the health of pregnant mothers and new-borns across India has crossed the one-crore mark.

Launched last year to overcome the problem of fudging of health information coming from states, the mother and child tracking system (MCTS) aims at keeping track of all pregnant mothers, infants and children to ensure proper medical services and vaccination for them.

The milestone was achieved on October 28 when the total number of pregnant women registered with the MCTS crossing the one-crore mark.

The online system identifies each pregnant mother who visits a government health facility and monitors her from conception till 42 days after the delivery. The call centre officials randomly call up the woman to find out whether she is getting proper medical attention.

For children, the monitoring period is five years during which the system ensures that they receive all necessary vaccines. The e-governance initiative was drawn up after it was found that some states were fudging health data. On the one hand, they were showing high immunisation rate. On the other, their infant and child mortality rates were very high.
Expanded further, the monitoring mechanism may help uplift India’s maternal and infant mortality rates. Despite some improvements, India’s maternal mortality ratio (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR) are way behind the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets. The MDG target for MMR stands at 109 per 1,00,000 live births by 2015. Currently India’s MMR (between 2007 and 2009) is 212, which is an improvement from the 2004-06 figure of 254. Only Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Kerala have realised the MDG target.

Major causes of maternal health are haemorrhage, sepsis, hypertensive disorders, obstructed labour, abortion and other conditions that include anaemia. Institutional delivery as well as iron supplements can address many of these conditions. The IMR target is 28 deaths of infants of less than one year per 1,000 live births. Only Tamil Nadu and Kerala have achieved the target while Delhi, Maharashtra and West Bengal are in close proximity. For the country, the IMR stands at 50. “The MCTS is aimed at ensuring complete delivery of maternal and child health services to all pregnant women and new-born to reduce maternal, infant and child mortality,” said Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.

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