Care for Mothers and Babies
High infant mortality rate (IMR)
The rate of mortality for infants up to 12 months in India remains very high: various authorities report statistics of between 49 and 61 deaths for every 1 000 live births. In the first year of DIR operations in Janta Colony, scaling up the data for actual births put the local IMR at about 100. Most women gave birth at home in conditions of poor hygiene and no running water. When complications arose during birth, there was little chance to access medical assistance. Moreover, infants often missed critical first vaccinations and received insufficient nourishment. The very young are also most susceptible to death from diarrheal disease.
DIR has trained HPs to monitor the health of each pregnant woman by tracking weight gain, checking blood pressure and listening for fetal heartbeat during monthly visits to the home. This creates an opportunity to discuss the woman’s concerns and to educate about the importance of good nutrition, vitamin and iron supplements, and the benefits of hospital birth. HPs also begin early to discuss how to properly feed and care for the expected child.
After delivery, HPs visit the home within the first week to assess the overall health of both the mother and infant. Over the following year, the focus of monthly visits is on signs of healthy development for the child and on options for family planning. DIR promotes diverse means to space births, thereby improving survival rates and development of both children and young mothers.
DIR’s presence appears to have increased awareness of the importance of proper care before and after childbirth. In 2012, almost 100% of pregnant women in Janta Colony delivered their babies in hospital or under the care of qualified health professionals. The infant mortality rate has plummeted from 50 (per 1000 live births) in 2005 to 20 in 2012. IMR in Janta Colony is less than half that of the national average.