April 2014

Each Child Deserves Attention – Dr Vijay Yewale, President, Indian Academy of Pediatrics

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The Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) is committed to the improvement of the health and well being of all children. Dr Vijay Yewale, President, Indian Academy of Pediatrics, in conversation with Shahid Akhter, ENN, outlines the efforts made IAP to improve childcare scenario in India.

Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) has come a long way. You celebrated Golden Jubilee last year. Please share IAP milestones, mission and vision ?

Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) took off in the year 1963 with around 150 pediatricians as its members. Today, we are 23,000 plus and still going strong. Our headquarter is in Mumbai and our members are spread across the country. Compared to other medical specialties and organizations, IAP is the largest and most representative association of pediatricians in India.

Since inception, we have been focused on CMEs by way of lectures, symposia and conferences being organized across the country. In the undergraduate curriculum, pediatrics was found to be underrepresented and so we took steps to reclaim its importance and recognition as a separate discipline.

At the core of our commitment lies our determination to improve the health and wellbeing of our children. The IAP strives for the achievement of the optimum growth, development and health in the physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual realms of all children irrespective of the diversities of their backgrounds.

Globally, India stands 142 among 176 nations in maternal health. Why this dismal scenario and what steps have been initiated as a remedial measure?

Maternal deaths are high for various reasons. Lack of quality emergency care is the most important among them. Add to this, poor accessibility to skilled birth attendants. Tetanus in newborns and several other reasons compound this problem. The government is addressing this issue and we have initiated Newborn Resuscitation Program – First Golden Minute Project, that will help in checking the infant and under 5 child mortality rate. The project aims to train about 200,000 health professionals in Basic Newborn Care and Resuscitation with ultimate aim to have one person at every delivery trained in neonatal resuscitation.

Any other program, joint ventures in association with IAP?

Yes, we are associated with several programs, ventures and workshops.. Some of them are academic in nature, while other are workshops, training, etc.

In collaboration with our Kutch branch we have started Infectious Disease Surveillance and AEFI (Adverse Event Following Immunization) reporting system for reporting serious AEFI. The Objectives of the project are to develop an early warning system for pediatric infectious diseases in India, to generate data on burden of infectious diseases in India and to generate data on serious AEFI. All the cases reported through various methods are collected in a single database in real time and reports are sent to all users on weekly basis. In case a disease outbreak is recorded on the system, email and SMS alert are sent to all users instantaneously.

IAP Touch Workshop is about training of upcoming child health workers.

IAP’s current programmes and involvement?

Our latest venture is in collaboration with Vodaphone. We have just launched the world’s largest vaccination reminder service for ImmunizeIndia. Through this drive, we aim to prevent 500,000 child deaths and disabilities by 2018. This is a free SMS service to receive reminders on immunization schedule for 12 years.

Today, almost 2 million children under the age of 5 die every year in India and another 1 million or more are disabled for life. Vaccination reminder services in several countries have been effective in increasing compliance by 20%. With over 800 million mobile connections, almost every household in India now has a phone that supports SMS. A text message reminder service is therefore the most cost effective method of reminding parents that a vaccination is due.

“We have just launched the world’s largest vaccination reminder service for Immunize India”

The IAP-ImmunizeIndia programme is a unique initiative that leverages the outreach of mobile technology and penetration of mobile phones across the country to raise awareness and deliver critical alerts about an essential health service. This reminder service will be available free of cost to parents across the country and they can opt-in to the service by sending a text message by SMS to the national short code 566778 from any mobile network in India, in the following format:

Immunize <Space> <Baby’s pet name> < Space> <Baby’s date of birth>

They will receive an immediate confirmation and text message reminders for 12 years, following the prescribed immunization schedule – 3 reminders are sent, at 2 day intervals, for each vaccination due.

Scary Figures

  • Today, almost 2 million children under the age of 5 die every year in India and another 1 million or more are disabled for life.
  • Out of every three babies in the world dying on the first day of their birth, one is from India
  • In India, 24 out of 1000 newborns die within seven days of their birth
  • India ranks 75 out of 77 middle income countries on the index Best Place to be a Mother (State of the World’s Mothers 2011)
  • India ranks 142 among 176 countries in maternal health
  • 57.9 % of pregnant women aged between 15-49 were found to be anaemic (NFHS-3)
  • 50 % of women had at least 3 antenatal care visits (NFHS -3)
  • 22.3 % of women consumed Iron Folic Acid (IFA) for 90 days or more (NFHS-3)

How do you intend to achieve this herculean task ?

To ensure an optimal outreach and registration for this program, the IAP in addition to its member pediatricians, will engage with other influencers that parents trust – doctors, nurses, midwives, school teachers, aanganwadi workers, priests, et al.

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