An App to Save the Lives of Mothers
- Raghav Goyal
- Published on 8 Sep 2020, 6:58 pm IST
- 5 minutes read
A change maker who is in the process of curbing the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) in the state of Bihar by providing maternal health monitoring digital app in his district Darbhanga.
- The man behind saving the lives of a number of women in Darbhanga, Mr Thiyagarajan SM(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/DM Darbhanga)
The incidents of maternal deaths, due to birth or pregnancy-related complications, are among the highest in India. In view of this, medical battles are being fought at different levels to bring down the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) in the country, with varying degrees of success. It is in this connection that an app introduced in the Darbhanga district of Bihar, by its District Collector, Mr. Thiyagarajan SM, has become hugely popular.
Ever since the app was launched, it has saved the lives of thousands of women in Darbhanga. No doubt, it’s touted as a wonder app.
Idea Of Launching Maternal Health Monitoring App
To curb the deaths of women during pregnancy, Mr. Thiyagarajan SM, a 2011-batch IAS officer, came up with a wonderful idea of implementing a digital app named WonderApp to monitor the health of pregnant women. The idea came from a 40-year, experienced Illinois-based obstetrician and gynecologist, Narmadha Kuppuswami who was unsuccessful in launching the application in Erode, Tamil Nadu.
Mr. Thiyagarajan SM said, “The app was not launched in a full-fledged way in Tamil Nadu but then it was launched in Darbhanga in August 2019.”
In the process, Bihar became the first Indian state to monitor the health of pregnant women by making use of this digital application.
In an exclusive interview with Indian Masterminds, Mr. Thiyagarajan SM explained the need to implement the application in the Darbhanga district. He said, “ “Bihar’s MMR is much higher as compared to other states, similarly Darbhanga has also faced a high rate of maternal deaths than other districts in the state. Whenever we reviewed the maternal mortality in the district, we had many complications as the system was not much responsive. Therefore, to deal with the complications it became necessary to launch the application in a full-fledged way.”
How Wonder Darbhanga Works
WonderApp is operated digitally in which the women need to register themselves by entering their basic details. Once the details are listed, the ‘Asha’ workers and `Jeevika’ health workers of the district reach out to the expecting mother’s houses to update the health condition and the vitals of the person in their individual lists. Therefore, after the tests are conducted, the result, depending on the abnormality of the person, is redirected in the form of alerts on the mobile app. For example, if a person is suffering from high blood pressure or high pulse rate, an alert is immediately sent to the respective person’s mobile application in various colour-coded warnings. There are three colours – green, yellow, and red which signify the condition of the person as normal, mildly abnormal, and severely abnormal.
Mr. Thiyagarajan said “Whenever the app generates alerts, we try to provide help to the patient according to the priority and the abnormality in the patient. For example, if a person is in a severe condition, a red alert is generated. Along with the alerts, a full management protocol is generated to bridge the skill and knowledge gap of the respondents.”
“In the case of severe abnormality, the patient is transferred to the referral center by clicking a single button in the app. Before the patient arrives at the center, all the necessary preparations are completed as the doctor is already aware of the individual’s health condition through the data listed in the app. The golden period of saving a woman during pregnancy is four-five hours, it helps in reducing the response time of the doctor as the previous data is already available with the concerned doctor”, he added.
Mr. Thiyagarajan also said, “While implementing the application in Darbhanga I got the support of Principal Secretary, Health Minister, and the Bihar government. Everybody helped us as the app has a bigger motive to serve.”
Achievements Of Wonder App
The app was launched in August 2019 and was first initiated in two blocks of Darbhanga. After the successful launch in the two blocks, Mr. Thiyagarajan SM decided to extend the app in all the 18 blocks of the district. Mr. Thiyagarajan SM in the interview said “So far, the app has recorded around 60,000 registrations and has sent more than 32,000 alerts in which almost all the respondents have received treatment. The main problems the pregnant women were facing in Darbhanga were anemia, hypertension, and hemorrhage, which were further rectified and were given the required treatment. By the launch of this app, we saved a lot of lives of women suffering during their pregnancy and I hope it will also be replicated in other parts of the country.”
The Nationwide Scene
Now for some facts on MMR. India being the second-largest country to have the highest number of maternal deaths in 2015, it has, however, has experienced a steep decline in the deaths in the past few years. According to the statistics in 2004-2006, the maternal mortality rate in India (per 1,00,000 live births) was 254 which further declined by 31% till 2010-2012, making the number reduced to 178. It has further declined by 36% from 2010-2012 to 2016-2018 as India has recorded an MMR of 113.
However, some states in the country are dealing with a high rate of maternal mortality. In 2016-2018 Assam recorded the highest number of maternal deaths and Bihar was also among the states at the top. As per the latest trends, Bihar has an MMR (per 1,00,000 live births) of 145 in 2016-2018. Whereas, the aim of 3.1 of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the United Nations is to reduce the global MMR to 70 per 1,00,000 live births. It is in this context that the WonderApp, now a resounding success in Bihar’s Darbhanga district, should be seen: a truly wonderful digital tool to save mothers’ lives.
END OF THE ARTICLE