Scale-up of SEARCH’s home based newborn care in Karnataka—a case study
- N Nakkeeran, R Patel, Y Shetty, B. Kumbar
- Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar…
India has contributed immensely toward generating evidence on two key domains of newborn care: Home Based Newborn Care (HBNC) and community mobilization. In a model developed in Gadchiroli (Maharashtra) in the 1990s, a package of Interventions delivered by community health workers during home visits led to a marked decline in neonatal deaths. On the basis of this experience, the national HBNC program centered around Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) was introduced in 2011, and is now the main community-level program in newborn health. Earlier in 2004, the Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illnesses (IMNCI) program was rolled out with inclusion of home visits by Anganwadi Worker as an integral component. IMNCI has been implemented in 505 districts in 27 states and 4 union territories. A mix of Anganwadi Workers, ASHAs, auxiliary nursing midwives (ANMs) was trained. The rapid roll out of IMNCI program resulted in improving quality of newborn care at the ground field. However, since 2012 the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare decided to limit the IMNCI program to ANMs only and leaving the Anganwadi component to the stewardship of the Integrated Child Development Services. ASHAs, the frontline workers for HBNC, receive four rounds of training using two modules. There are a total of over 900 000 ASHAs per link workers in the country, out of which, only 14% have completed the fourth round of training. The pace of uptake of the HBNC program has been slow. Of the annual rural birth cohort of over 17 million, about 4 million newborns have been visited by ASHA during the financial year 2013-2014 and out of this 120 000 neonates have been identified as sick and referred to health facilities for higher level of neonatal care. Supportive supervision remains a challenge, the role of ANMs in supervision needs more clarity and there are issues surrounding quality of training and the supply of HBNC kits. The program has low visibility in many states. Now is the time to tap the missed opportunity of miniscule coverage of HBNC; that at least half of the country's birth cohort should be covered by this program by 2016, coupled with rapid scale up of the community-based treatment of neonates with pneumonia or sepsis, where referral is not possible.