The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has launched two pilot projects in the state to reduce the mortality rate of newborn babies and maintain the health of new mothers.
The latest programmes — Care & Save the Children and Newborn Child Health & Adolescence — were launched earlier this month in eight districts. The move follows the success of the Integrated Family Health Initiative implemented by the foundation in 2011.
East Champaran, West Champaran, Gopalganj, Sitamarhi, Purnea, Patna, Samastipur and Begusarai districts are under the programmes’ ambit.
The programmes would give special thrust to the safe delivery of babies and prevention of neonatal deaths.
Dr S.P. Srivastava, an adviser to the programme, said: “Following the ground-level implementation of the Integrated Family Health Initiative, a mass awareness was discerned among the people all through the state.”
He added: “The foundation aims to provide essential arrangements required for the good health of mothers and children, ensure safe delivery and guarantee timely immunisation and desired nutrition for their health.”
At present, the neonatal mortality rate in Bihar is 32 per thousand births, while the infant mortality rate is around 44 per thousand children.
Dr Srivastava, the director of Vatsalya Hospital in Patna, said the foundation aims to bring down both rates to 25 per thousand by the end of 2017.
If the latest programmes elicit a positive response in the eight districts, these could be launched in the remaining 30 districts of the state.
Both the programmes are extensions of the Integrated Family Health Initiative and wound function under the supervision of the health department and State Health Society, Bihar.
“Care & Save the Children aims to curb the graph of umbilical cord infections among newborn children in the eight districts. At least one-third of the children in the districts die every year from this cause. Paediatricians would help run the pilot project,” said Dr Srivastava.