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Imagine an alarm goes off everytime the blood pressure of a woman in labour drops to dangerous levels. This software developed by Dr. Narmadha Kuppuswamy, now in its pilot stages, could save the lives of hundreds of pregnant women.
Pregnancy is probably the toughest time in a woman’s life. The entire duration of pregnancy is challenging but even today, the process of childbirth can be and in fact, is fatal, for many mothers. On the occasion of National Safe Motherhood Day (April 11th), let’s take a look at this interesting new intervention to help.
First, the context. India flaunts itself as one of the high ranking countries for medical tourism, providing excellent medical care to foreigners at affordable costs. But few know the sorry state of affairs for Indians and the quality of medical care we are given, especially in the less developed parts of the country.
Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) as a concept came to the limelight in 2000. What is MMR? It is a number which indicates the number of women who die per hundred thousand live births, as a result of birth related complications. The shocking statistics make us want to relook upon the situation of women and to be mothers in India.
India has a maternal mortality rate of 175 per hundred thousand life births. Dr. Narmadha Kuppuswamy is doing something to improve this number, with a pilot project in Tamil Nadu (Tamil Nadu, considered one of the more developed states, is better than the Indian average with an MMR of 67.) With four decades of experience in obstetrics and gynaecology in Chicago, she felt the need to do something to impact the situation in India positively.
Dr.Kuppuswamy has developed a software focused on reducing maternal mortality that occurs during labour. She says that while 50% of maternal deaths occur during the 24 hours in labour, 20% of deaths occur within 5-7 days of giving birth.
The software consists of a digitised vital signs chart which classifies the patient’s vital signs into ‘normal’, ‘mildly abnormal’ and ‘severely abnormal’ indicated by green, yellow and red colours respectively. Each time the patients’ numbers are worrisome on essential parameters like pulse, blood pressure etc. an alarm goes off indicating an abnormality. Also, the concerned patients’ name flashes on the dashboard alerting the medical staff. The app also includes basic guidelines for emergency treatments. In case of a missing doctor (which can happen given the sever shortage of doctors in rural India), the nurses can take charge in time to try and save a life.
Maternal mortality has its effect on the deceased person’s family, especially the father who is left with a baby. But what about the woman herself? She is the one who goes through the extremely tiring, painful and uncomfortable 9 months of pregnancy hoping to hold her baby, nurture and cherish her child; but ends up losing her life due to no fault of her own. What an irony, a mother who is synonymous with creating life, loses her own while making another.
Today is National Safe Motherhood Day, which is just another reason for us women to demand more initiatives to ensure a safe and healthy life for all of us in India. A salute to doctors like Narmadha Kuppuswamy who use their knowledge and capabilities for eliminating this horrible word ‘Maternal Mortality ‘ altogether. We need many more such interventions to be tested in multiple environments in India.
Image via Pixabay