On behalf of the Jhpiego India family, I wish you and your family a happy, healthy and peaceful 2014!
Looking back, 2013 was a great year! We at Jhpiego were able to strengthen our work across programs and impact the lives of millions of women, children and families—by providing family planning (FP) services to help women space births; by preparing future nurses and midwives to competently serve women and children at health facilities; by ensuring that women and newborns get high-quality care during and in the critical first hours after childbirth; and by making efforts to establish a culture of quality and respectful care for all, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized population of this country. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India (GoI) at both the national and state levels to strengthen their vision of universal health access, especially for women and children.
In October 2013, in partnership with the MoHFW, we hosted the third consecutive national FP review meeting, titled “National Summit on Family Planning for Improved RMNCH+A Outcomes,” bringing together more than 300 participants, including Principal Health Secretaries, Mission Directors, health officials and providers for in-depth discussions. At the Summit, Shri Keshav Desiraju, Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, spoke passionately about the close link between women’s health and a stronger society. He underpinned the importance of women’s access to high-quality reproductive health services beyond FP and the need to create an enabling environment for them. Mrs. Anuradha Gupta, Additional Secretary and Mission Director, National Rural Health Mission reiterated the shift in GoI’s focus from limiting to spacing FP methods and requested the states to focus on strengthening health services in the 184 high-priority districts. Mrs. Gupta appreciated the technical assistance provided by Jhpiego in strengthening the country’s postpartum family planning (PPFP) program and informed the audience that more than 200,000 women had accepted intrauterine devices in the postpartum period as a FP method of choice. A key message that was sent out by the Ministry, ably worded by Dr. S K Sikdar, Deputy Commissioner (FP) was, “FP is the fulcrum around which the RMNCH+A strategy is built and FP contributes to each of these components and ultimately to overall socio-economic development of this country.” In an exclusive interview given to Jhpiego, Mrs. Gupta spelt out in detail the GoI’s thinking behind RMNCH+A and PPFP strategies. (Read here)
To garner national momentum and advocate for high-quality care at health care facilities across states, Jhpiego partnered with the MoHFW, GoI in November 2013 to host the first landmark national-level workshop on quality, titled “Moving beyond Numbers towards Quality of Care for Improved RMNCH+A Outcomes.” During the two-day deliberations, which were attended by more than 300 participants from 35 states and union territories of India, key causes of maternal and infant mortality were highlighted and evidence-based, cost-effective interventions that address these causes were discussed. In her address, Mrs. Gupta shed light on the fact that while initiatives like Janani Suraksha Yojana and Janani-Shishu Suraksha Karyakram had successfully increased the utilization of maternal and newborn health services in the country, this had not led to proportionate improvements in maternal and neonatal mortality, underpinning the urgency to focus on “quality” and “equity” of care. She also congratulated Jhpiego, calling us “a valued partner, extremely focused on quality.”
Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) remains a leading cause of death among women. While GoI stays committed to getting women to access health care institutions for childbirth, there are still pockets where institutional births are low. To provide lifesaving uterotonics during the third stage of labor to women delivering at home, the GoI has recently taken a policy decision to allow advanced distribution of misoprostol to such pregnant women. We brought this discussion on PPH management to the forefront and facilitated learning from global experience, by organizing, through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program, a three-day “PPH Program Implementation Workshop” in December 2013, bringing together more than 100 health care professionals and providers from seven countries and 10 high-focus Indian states.
Jhpiego’s work in strengthening the pre-service education of nurses and midwives at the national level and across the states of Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Bihar broke new grounds in 2013. State Nodal Centers (SNCs) of Excellence in Nursing and Midwifery Education were established at Uttarakhand and Bihar which got accredited by the Indian Nursing Council. Their state-of-the-art computer lab, library and skills lab, along with quality education being imparted by a faculty trained in the latest pedagogic methodologies, make these SNCs model institutions for the rigorous education that young nursing students need as preparation for their real life work. In partnership with Cisco, we succeeded in leveraging modern information technology to strengthen the quality of nursing and midwifery education of auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) and general nurse midwife (GNM) students of Bihar. In September 2013, students from three GNM schools and five ANM schools of Bihar started receiving live classes from the host classroom at SNC Patna through virtual technology. A customized 72-hour curriculum package has been developed for this virtual training. Initial feedback shows that the students are finding the technology user-friendly and liking the practical demonstrations, presentation skills and question/answer session.
Several dignitaries visited these SNCs and were impressed by how well they function, including the UK Minister of State for International Development, Honorable Mr. Alan Duncan, who visited the SNC in Patna, and the US Ambassador to India, Ambassador Nancy Powell, who visited the SNC in Dehradun. Ambassador Powell expressed her appreciation in a letter to us, where she wrote, “I hope we can find further ways to work together to help you continue to reach the very important goals you have set out for the people of Uttarakhand and India.”
To share our experiences with a wider audience and learn from other countries, we presented our work across several national and international conferences, including the International Conference on Family Planning at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and Exposition in Boston.
Our 40th anniversary celebrations, which began in March 2013 in New Delhi, drew to a close in December last year, with special events in Lucknow and Patna. Through these events, we brought together partners, supporters and friends, and reiterated our commitment to quality by hosting panel discussions on “quality of care for improved RMNCH+A outcomes.”
All our work has been possible due to the valuable support and encouragement extended to us by our donors—USAID, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Norway India Partnership Initiative, Department for International Development, David and Lucille Packard Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and MSD for Mothers.
Friends, as we embark on the year 2014, we at Jhpiego renew our pledge to work relentlessly towards saving the lives of mothers and children and ensuring that they get respectful, high-quality care.
With warm regards,