health

Wheels Global’s Health group’s mission is to provide affordable healthcare solutions to India’s more than 800 million rural and underserved population. The poverty, lack of healthcare facilities, lack of water and sanitation facilities, and lack of infrastructure exacerbate the problems.

Improving the Lives in Rural India by Technology-enabled Solutions

Newborn Nutritional Health Through Health Spoken Tutorials

Name / Headline:

Newborn Nutritional Health 

The Problem:

Key problem being addressed is the severe malnutrition in newborn babies, crippling their growth (physical as well as mental) and thus lifelong costs & burdens on the family and public resources.

While many factors can contribute to malnutrition, one of the most preventable and systemic causal factors is poor knowledge of breastfeeding techniques, especially in first-time mothers in rural/remote parts of India. Generally, one would think that support from family elders or neighbors or even common sense should be enough for a mother to breastfeed the newborn properly. Unfortunately, the truth is far from that. Newborns are not in a position to communicate, and self-intuition is grossly adequate here. Several factors make a huge difference in a baby’s ability to receive an adequate quantity of milk available from the mother such as how the baby is held, angle, and posture of the baby. Further, the mother’s understanding of the importance of complementary feeding & important nutrients during critical 1000-days (9 months during pregnancy, 2 years after birth) makes a huge difference in the newborn’s long-term health. However, all these, while seeming common sense, are badly missing. General awareness is limited to only the importance of breastfeeding, and not how.

Read a 2-Pager.

The Solution:

In this problem domain, good news is that the most important source of the nutrition for newborn is generally available in ample supply – breast milk from the mother. The biggest hurdle in the newborn not receiving is the ‘lack of technique (technology)’ mother is using. Same lack of understanding of the proper breastfeeding technique extends to even the community health workers (‘Asha’) who interacts with the mothers. Hence, our focus would be on the ‘technology’ piece, augmented by policy & budget as the necessary enablers of the whole intervention model as explained further in below answers.

Leveraging pioneering research & field work by Dr Rupal Dalal, a USA-based pediatrician, now dedicating her life to address this preventable problem in her home state of Gujarat, WHEELS Global Foundation (WGF) has applied its Spoken Tutorials (ST) innovation to enable nationwide scaling of her ‘breastfeeding techniques’ training content & process. For scale & sustainability, teaching newborn mothers has to start with first teaching the same to existing community health workers (‘Asha’) who are the primary interface to the mothers, and also an existing staffed resource-pool in the State health infrastructure. Further, the training has to be integrated with existing programs (e.g., providing vitamins and iron etc to pregnant mothers, vaccinations) & processes (e.g., frequency of visits, data collection, communication practices).

WGF’s ST group, led by renowned Dr Kannan Moudgalya from IIT Bombay, has not only converted Dr Dalal’s training material into very intuitive self-learning tutorials (series of 10-min modules that can be used in offline or online mode, anywhere, anytime, and as many repetitions as needed for full retention) but also overlay them locally spoken languages (20+). Further the solution integrates with well-established scientific metrics to measure the newborn growth over the most formative first 2-years of their life. This application then supports not only tracking of the progress and impact, but also identification of workers / mothers who need augmentation of training or human-touch from the expert. To summarize, our implementation model has:

(1) innovative technology platform to support scale, ease of use & adoption, data tracking & monitoring, real-time interventions.

2) leverage existing Statewide infrastructure for rapid scale.

(3) integration with existing processes and setup.

 

Please see a great video about this solution

Please see remarks of Mission Director, National Health Mission, Govt of Madhya Pradesh

Update

After successful roll-outs in five districts (in Maharashtra, Chattisgarh, and Gujarat), on 20th November 2023, the HST initiative was launched for statewide deployment in one of the largest states in India – Madhya Pradesh. With support from key partners CSIS and RIST Foundation, this 2-phase effort will touch the entire health infrastructure in the State of Madhya Pradesh and impact the lives of more than 10m mothers and babies.

Click here for more details.

Relevant Research & Articles

Human milk: A win-win-win for health, sustainability, and economics?

 

What we know: Breastfeeding is important for health, but until now its broader environmental and economic significance has been in the shadows.

What this article adds: Two new resources – the Mothers’ Milk Tool and the Green Feeding Tool (Smith et al., 2023a; 2023b).  This article explores how, by enabling breastfeeding, we contribute not only to health but also to environmental and economic goals, making this an investable solution for multiple sectors. 

Click here for more details.

WGF leaders providing oversight:

Prof Kannan Moudgalya, Dr Rupal Dalal, and Dr Raj Shah

Impact

District Health S.T. solution started its journey with a pilot and then district-wide rollout in Nandurbar district of Maharashtra where it achieved phenomenal success in improving the daily weight gain of newborns from around 10 gms/day to nearly 35 gms/day, well exceeding targeted national standard. From there, the program has expanded to five other districts in Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Chattisgarh. We are now in the active dialog to deploy the initiative to the entire State of M.P. Overall, the initiative has already covered several thousand beneficiaries, with the opportunity to scale to impact more than five million mothers and babies.

Call to Action:

There are several areas that you/ your organization can do to address the severe malnutrition in newborn babies

◊ Sponsor the initiative – just a contribution of $1000 can impact thousands of babies each year.

◊ Help leverage your employer’s CSR funds and corporate-giving / matching programs.

◊ Refer to other non-profit or for-profit entities that can help us scale faster.

◊ Join our team of committed volunteers to further innovate, optimize and scale through your expertise and network.

◊ Connect us with a responsible person on the ground (alumni or otherwise) in a target village so as to manage logistics and ongoing oversight.

No contribution and support are small. Every bit counts. We are looking to all of your support to help us address the currently massive unmet need over the next few years, and not waste another decade.

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