Karnataka is setting up its first National Midwifery Training Institute (NMTI) at the Vani Vilas Government Women and Children Hospital. The Midwifery Initiative is a public-private partnership between central and state governments, UNICEF and the Bengaluru-based Aastrika Foundation.
According to informed sources, midwifery educators will be trained at NMTI with the support of international midwives, who will in turn train nurse practitioners in midwifery at midwifery colleges in the state of Karnataka, said a report in The New Indian Express.
The state, with 83 maternal deaths per lakh of live births, is said to have the highest maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in South India. Kerala, on the other hand, has an MMR of 30 maternal deaths per lakh of live births.
One of the main contributors to maternal deaths is the poor quality of intrapartum (period covering childbirth) care.
“Midwifery is a proven and globally recognized intervention that can prevent up to 83% of all maternal and newborn deaths. The initiative has promoted respectful maternal care and natural births, reducing the need for cesarean sections,” the field manager said. Office, UNICEF, for Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Telangana, Meital Rusdia.
Telangana is a pioneer on this front and “lessons learned from the state initiative have fed into the National Midwifery Initiative. Based on lessons learned from the pilot project in Telangana and advice received from the Indian government, UNICEF partnered with the government of Karnataka. and Aastrika Foundation to support the launch of the Midwifery Initiative and National Midwifery Training Institute at Vani Vilas Hospital in Karnataka. This is a game-changer and a solution to the lack of health personnel in the country,” she added.
Lack of skilled service providers or over-medicalization of the birthing process have been found to be major reasons for poor intrapartum care. The lack of respect and abuse of women during childbirth also acts as a deterrent to women and their families opting for institutional childbirth.
In 2018, the Department of Health and Family Welfare (MH&FW) released guidelines for the Midwifery Initiative for all states and union territories.
Citing a Lancet report, which stated that safe and effective midwifery care (which includes family planning) can prevent 83% of all maternal deaths, stillbirths and newborn deaths, the Center deployed the national midwifery practice guidelines at the 2018 Partners Forum in New Delhi.
The guidelines introduced the concept of Midwifery Led Care Units (MLCUS) run by midwifery nurse practitioners in medical schools, district hospitals, first referral units (FRUs) and Community Health Centers (CHC).