New Delhi: Every year six lakh newborns die within 28 days of birth in India, according to a study by UNICEF. Many of these deaths occur due to infections and diseases caused by malnutrition and improper hygiene. ‘Vastrr’, a Delhi based NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) is working towards changing that scenario. Colonel Parminder Kaur, who served as a doctor in the armed forces for 14 years decided to start this NGO two years ago after she realised a lot of expectant and new mothers lack awareness about neonatal care. The term ‘neonate’ is used for the newborn during the first 28-30 day period. Neonatal care refers to the care given to the newborn during this period. Neonatal care is critical because of the potential risks during this period like respiratory infections, jaundice and other infections. While talking to NDTV about ‘Vastrr’ Colonel Kaur said,
We hold workshops in government hospitals and there most of the women come from marginalised backgrounds. We tell them about hypothermia, low birth weight issues, swaddling, the right technique of breastfeeding the baby, and the importance of colostrum for the health of the baby. We also distribute kits for newborn babies which consist of a set of clothes, cloth reusable diaper, baby blanket, baby plastic sheet, soap, and hand sanitiser.
So far the NGO has educated about 7,000 mothers in various government hospitals and distributed about 3,000 kits for newborn babies and organised camps in various hospitals and slum areas in Delhi. The NGO also offers free consultation to the new mothers on anything related to neonatal care and for this, the NGO has provided a phone number on the kit.
While mothers get discharged from the hospital in 2-3 days post-delivery, Colonel Kaur said she stays in touch with every mother about the baby’s health for upto 28 days post-birth. “The first 28 days are the most crucial. In case any complication develops I immediately try to help them and get the right medical care or resources to them”, added Colonel Kaur.
Dr. Deepmala Kaul, Deputy Medical Superintendent of Dada Dev Matri Children’s Hospital in Dwarka where Colonel Kaur often holds workshops told NDTV that NGOs like ‘Vastrr’ are a great helping hand for the medical fraternity. She said,
We have so many doctors here yet the patient footfall is so huge at government hospitals that even after working round check, we can only try our best with medical care. In terms of creating a comprehensive awareness and staying in touch with patients in the long term, ‘Vastrr’ is a great help. A more aware mother is key to a healthier baby.