22 October 2011
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India
For the first time ever, India has decided to roll out a newborn care scheme that will ensure Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) visit the homes of new mothers six times in 42 days to encourage safe practices and early detection and free referral of sick babies. They will also ensure “zero expenditure” in the management of sick newborn in identified healthcare facilities.
The Union health ministry has written to directors of the National Rural Health Mission across India to roll out the programme at the earliest.
The ASHAs, who will be paid Rs 250 for every home visit, will get the money only after 42 days.
In this interim, the ASHAs will have to record the birth weight of the child in the maternal and child protection cards (MCP), immunize newborns with BCG vaccine, the first dose of the oral polio vaccine and the DPT vaccine and make the entries in the MCP card. They will also have to register the births and both the mother and child will have to be safe at the end of the 42nd day.
The ministry note says, “It is requested that implementation of home based new born care be accorded priority,” adding, “Despite a decline in IMR, neonatal mortality is more or less static. It is therefore essential that neonates are provided utmost care at the first month of life.”