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Bihar’s State Nodal Center for Nursing and Midwifery Serves as Educational Model

Patna, India — The State Nodal Center (SNC) for Nursing and Midwifery at the College of Nursing in Patna is no stranger to high-profile visitors. Its state-of-the-art computer lab, library and skills lab make this SNC a model for the rigorous education that young nursing students need to provide quality health services for India’s mothers and newborns.

The recent transformation of this SNC from a defunct rest house to a center of excellence is a big step in the direction of strengthening pre-service education standards in Bihar. The SNC is educating students who are training to become auxiliary nurse-midwives (ANMs) and general nurse-midwives (GNMs) in accordance with the Indian Nursing Council guidelines. The center is also strengthening the teaching skills of faculty of nursing and midwifery schools in Bihar through a mandatory six-week training program.

The need for strengthening pre-service education for nurses and midwives in Bihar is immense. Bihar has the highest fertility rate in the country at 3.6 (Sample Registration System 2011 Report) and very poor health outcomes for mothers and their children—the infant mortality rate is 44 deaths per 1,000 live births and the maternal mortality ratio is 261 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Recognizing this urgent need to improve the conditions of maternal and child health, the Government of Bihar is committed to doing what it takes to provide quality health care for its women and families. Nurse-midwives and ANMs form the backbone of the primary health workforce in Bihar and are integral parts of this strengthening process. Jhpiego, in partnership with the Bihar State Health Society and the Indian Nursing Council, and with support from the Norway India Partnership Initiative, is providing technical assistance to the Government of Bihar by strengthening pre-service education for nurses and midwives.

The Patna SNC will serve as a resource center for strengthening pre-service education at the six GNM schools and 21 ANM training centers in Bihar. Bihar’s nodal center has been established in line with national policy, and now a similar strategy for improving nursing and midwifery education is being adopted in other states where health indicators are weak. Education officials will soon be visiting the Patna SNC in preparation for setting up similar centers in their own states.

Since its inauguration by the Ambassador of Norway this February, this SNC has been visited by government officials from Bihar and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in New Delhi. Recent visitors in April included the Union Health Secretary, Keshav Desiraju, and Dr. Himanshu Bhushan, Deputy Commissioner, Maternal Health, Government of India. Accompanying them were the Secretary, Bihar State Health Society, Sanjay Kumar and other officials from the state nursing directorate.

The guests toured the SNC and its skills labs and library, discussed curriculum and teaching methodology with the faculty, and observed the hands-on training component at the clinical practice site attached to the SNC. Mr. Desiraju was especially impressed with lab demonstration stations, where nursing and midwifery students hone vital skills like plotting partographs, facilitating care during all stages of labor and conducting normal deliveries.

The skills lab also gives nurses and  midwives essential experience with detection and treatment of pre-eclampsia/eclampsia and postpartum hemorrhage and allows them to practice newborn care and newborn resuscitation on anatomic models.

Dr. Bhushan expressed appreciation for Jhpiego’s work, namely its training techniques and the support it has provided to the Government of Bihar for implementing the skills lab concept.