National Health Mission in Assam and Kamrup District and Piramal Foundation’s Xushrukha Research Initiative to Manage High-Risk Pregnancy Cases

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Guwahati: National Health Mission (NHM) Assam, in collaboration with Kamrup district authorities, unveiled “Xushrukha” (meaning “Taking Care” in Assamese), an innovative 18-month research programme that will help reduce the rate of probable high-risk pregnancy (HRP) cases in the State. This first-of-its-kind initiative in Assam, supported by the Piramal Foundation, is aimed at addressing and reducing high-risk pregnancies in the State, with a focus on the Chaygaon, Nagerbera, and Rangia blocks of Kamrup district.

Dignitaries present at the event included the Joint Director (Health), Dr. Mahitosh Banerjee, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Health), Shri. Kamal Boruah (ACS), State NHM Behavior Change Communications expert, Smt. Shikha Borthakur, amongst others.

With Assam’s Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) standing at a concerning 215 (Sample Registration System 2016-18), well above the national average, state health officials have made it a top priority to address this critical issue. This research programme aims to assist state and district health authorities in reducing maternal mortality by proactively identifying and providing counselling for at-risk women in the eligible couple category. Approximately 1,26,000 women will participate in awareness sessions focused on adhering to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations for preconception care, ultimately enhancing their pregnancy experiences.

The programme includes:

  1. Early identification of probable and current high-risk pregnancies (HRPs) during Eligible Couple Registration by ASHAs
  2. Targeted Counselling on Family Planning for identified high-risk beneficiaries by ASHAs
  3. Care and Counselling are provided throughout the entire 18 month-cycle – starting with preconception up to a few months after the birth of the child

The Piramal Foundation plays a pivotal role in enabling and supporting the implementation of the groundbreaking Xushrukha project. Within this initiative, the Foundation has developed innovative mobile applications containing counselling content and guidelines.  These tools will empower the digital knowledge of 694 Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) to conduct door-to-door screenings and provide support to pregnant women facing high-risk situations.  In addition to training the ASHAs, the Foundation will provide analytics to districts and blocks, thereby affecting governance and healthcare delivery. At the project’s conclusion, the Piramal Foundation will publish a comprehensive study in collaboration with NHM, Assam that will lay the groundwork for the expansion of this crucial programme across the entire state of Assam.

At the launch, District Commissioner, Smt. Keerthi Jalli (IAS), said, “The High-Risk Pregnancy identification programme will help the district to identify probable high-risk cases at the pre and ante-natal phases, to work on ensuring safe pregnancy outcomes. I am happy that this is being implemented in Kamrup district. The positive outcomes can be later scaled up.”

According to Sanjeet Roychoudhury, Director, Piramal Foundation,” Identifying probable high-risk cases early in the prenatal stages will support working on better management during pregnancy and its outcomes. It is our privilege to collaborate with NHM, Assam in such an innovative study, which may have the potential for larger assimilation in the state. At the end of the project, we will publish a comprehensive study based on this partnership”.