As recently as 2015, nearly 45,000 Indian women perished during childbirth, says a World Health Organization (WHO) report. Nearly 80% of these deaths could have been prevented had timely action been taken.
With high-risk pregnancies being the major cause of mortality, accurate identification of such cases is critical. A DISQ team working on maternal mortality decided to use the digital technology ecosystem to enable the healthcare system to take timely and informed decisions.
Putting Mothers First
Under the brand name Maatritva, Garima Dosar and Abhishek Verma created a rule-based algorithm to identify high-risk pregnancies, supported by the data uploaded on to an Android-based web platform by auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs), who are involved in last-mile care. The team scaled its solution all over Nashik city and district from 2017.
Based on a list of questions developed by medical experts, ANMs screen pregnant women and classify them under high-risk, suspected risk, and normal categories, assigning each woman a QR code. Medical officers and supervisors can then track the at-risk or high-risk pregnancies in real time through a web dashboard, thereby improving response time, making both resource planning as well as urgent intervention easier, and highlighting discrepancies.
Facilitating Urgent Care
For instance, from the dashboard, medical officers involved in the pilot noticed that for a particular region, similar blood pressure numbers were showing up over time. Since blood pressure is an important marker during pregnancy, the officers followed up on this and discovered that one set of ANMs had not been properly trained in recording blood pressure. This was then immediately rectified through outreach sessions.
As a result of Maatritva’s tracking mechanism, the number of women receiving antenatal care has also gone up. The solution also helps medical officers customize interventions based on the different reasons behind risk prevalence in different areas. To date, the solution has seen more than 1,200 users from the public health set-up across 600 sub-centers, with nearly 50,000 women benefiting from this innovation.