Free pan-India Virtual OPD through telephone launched for pregnant women and children by NGO ARMMAN
Travel restrictions due to nationwide lockdown, unavailability of medicines and lack of access to good healthcare facilities due to Covid-19 have left thousands of pregnant women anxious across the country.  Pregnant women were missing their antenatal visits and check-ups and this was making them anxious and nervous. 
 
As per the new guidelines issued for Lockdown 2.0, hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, tele-medicine facilities, dispensaries will be allowed to function but with social distancing and with only 50 per cent of the staff. 
 
However, earlier all private clinics and OPDs were shut down during Lockdown 1.0 leading to an extremely critical situation. The latest guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) state that pregnant women with heart disease are at “highest risk”.
 
 
In the current situation, pregnant women and mothers with young children are particularly vulnerable as they need regular checkups but the outpatient departments of most hospitals are either focused on the general population for Covid-19 or not operating at full capacity. 
 
To address this gap, ARMMAN, a Mumbai-based NGO has launched a pan-India free virtual OPD system for pregnant women and children this week with the help of volunteer doctors. Obstetricians and Paediatricians can be contacted directly on a toll-free number, 1-800-212-1425 to answer antenatal and paediatric queries.
 
This comes after the NGO received an overwhelming response to a similar initiative last week in Mumbai and Aurangabad.
 
Free Virtual OPD for pregnant women and children across India 
 
Key details are mentioned below:
 
● Free Virtual OPD Toll-free Number: 1-800-212-1425
● Target Group: Pregnant women and Children 
● Timings: Monday-Saturday
    ○ 11 am - 3 pm: Pregnant Women (ANC OPD)
    ○ 3 pm - 7 pm: Children (Paediatric OPD)
● Doctors Available: Obstetricians and Paediatricians
● Available Languages: Hindi and English
 
ARMMAN’s founder Dr Aparna Hegde, a practicing urogynaecologist told Moneylife “Currently we have the capacity to receive 250 calls a day, each of minimum 10 minutes duration”.
 
They already have 50 obstetricians as a part of the virtual OPD and an equal number of paediatricians are expected to join.
 
 
During her residency in obstetrics and gynaecology at Sion hospital in Mumbai, Dr. Aparna Hegde witnessed how pervasive systemic problems in the provision of health care to underprivileged pregnant women and children led to deaths that were actually preventable. 
 
Outside of Corona virus, India has the worst numbers of maternal health in the world. A woman dies every 15 minutes in India due to complications related to childbirth. Two kids under five die every minute in India. 
 
She observed that hospitals are overcrowded which meant that pregnant women end up waiting for long hours for their turn. When there is an emergency, it is difficult to get admission into a hospital. 
 
 
Even when patients are taken to a hospital, the hospitals are often not sufficiently equipped (especially in rural districts). Just as her residency at Sion hospital was ending, mobile phones started making an appearance in India. 
 
Within a few years, every home in India (including rural regions) had a mobile phone. She hit on an idea of how these ubiquitous cell phones could be used to save pregnant women’s lives. 
 
She founded ARMMAN (Advancing Reduction in Mortality and Morbidity of Mothers, Children and Neonates; www.armman.org), a non-profit dedicated to designing cost-effective solutions at scale for complex health care problems. ARMMAN also means a deep desire or wish to see that no woman or child dies in the country for want of care.
 
Dr. Hegde is also one of very few trained urogynaecologists and pelvic floor reconstructive surgeons in the country today. She was awarded the International Urogynecological Association (IUGA) Fellowship in Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery, which she completed in the renowned department of Urogynecology at Cleveland Clinic Florida in 2013 before returning to India. 
 
Dr Hegde came back from the US after her fellowship in Urogynaecology and in addition to her private practice, wanted to build a comprehensive department of Urogynaecology with a University recognized fellowship and research, India's first, that will give the best care to the poorest. Tata Trusts and Govt of Maharashtra came together to give her space at Cama hospital and also funding support from Tata Trusts to build it. 
 
 
ARMMAN’s projects; mMitra, Kilkari, Mobile Academy and Arogya Sakhi Home-based Antenatal and Infancy Care programme will impact the lives of millions every year. The NGO works in 16 states of India, partners with 100 hospitals and 43 NGOs, and has reached more than 18 million women and their kids. 
 
ARMMAN has expanded access to preventative care information and services for mothers during pregnancy and children up to the age of one, through mobile technology, along with training of frontline health workers (ASHAs). It is using a ‘tech plus touch’ model to work at scale – leveraging the existing frontline health worker network of the government and partner NGOs, alongside the ubiquity of mobile phones. mMitra was awarded the “People Choice’s Award” at the Saving Lives at Birth grant event in Washington DC in 2011.
 
Earlier this month, ARMMAN won the prestigious $ 1.5 million Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship 2020 for its exceptional work in the maternal and child health space.
 
 
Using free voice call services mMitra and Kilkari, ARMMAN sends timed and targeted preventive care information weekly to mothers during pregnancy and infancy. 
 
ARMMAN is also implementing an IVR-based training course to train frontline health workers in life-saving preventive health behaviors. Both Kilkari and Mobile Academy are implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India.

 

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    Coronavirus found in Indian bats, scrutiny crucial for outbreak alerts
    The detection of potentially pathogenic coronavirus in Indian bats stresses the need for enhancing screening for novel viruses in them, according to a study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
     
    This study was a step towards understanding the coronavirus circulation in Indian bats. "One Health approach with collaborative activities by the animal health and human health sectors in these surveillance activities shall be of use to public health," the study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research said.
     
    "This would help in the development of diagnostic assays for novel viruses with outbreak potential and be useful in disease interventions. Proactive surveillance remains crucial for identifying the emerging novel viruses with epidemic potential and measures for risk mitigation," said the study authored by Pragya D Yadav as the first author.
     
    A study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has found the presence of a bat coronavirus in bat species from Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu.
     
    There have been studies and theories that the coronavirus pandemic which spread from Wuhan in China had originated from bats.
     
    The ICMR study for the first time has found the presence of a different kind of coronavirus, bat coronavirus (BtCoV) in two bat species from these four states.
     
    According to the study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, there is no evidence to suggest that the bat coronaviruses can cause disease in humans.
     
    Bats from the Rousettus and Pteropus species from the four states were found positive. These bat coronaviruses are not related to the SARS-CoV2 which is causing the Covid 19 pandemic.
     
    The Pteropus bat species were earlier found positive for Nipah virus in 2018 and 2019 in Kerala.
     
    "Bats are considered to be the natural reservoir for many viruses, of which some are potential human pathogens. In India, an association of Pteropus medius bats with the Nipah virus was reported in the past. It is suspected that the recently emerged severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) also has its association with bats," the objective of the study titled 'Detection of coronaviruses in Pteropus and Rousettus species of bats from different states of India' said.
     
    In conclusion, the study showed detection of pathogenic CoVs in two species of Indian bats. Continuous active surveillance is required to identify the emerging novel viruses with epidemic potential.
     
    "There is a need of proactive surveillance of zoonotic infections in bats. Detection and identifications of such aetiological agents will provide leads for the development of diagnostic along with preparedness and readiness to deal with such emergent viruses thereby quickly containing them," the study said.
     
    The detection and identification of such viruses from bats also recommends cross-sectional antibody surveys (human and domestic animals) in localities where the viruses have been detected. Similarly, if epidemiological situation demands, evidence-based surveillance should also be conducted. There is a need of developing strong mechanisms for working jointly with various stakeholders such as wildlife, poultry, animal husbandry and human health departments.
     
    In the present scenario of changing demography and ecological manipulations, it is challenging to have checks on the encounters of bats with other animals and humans. Therefore, active and continuous surveillance remains crucial for outbreak alerts for bat-associated viral agents with epidemic potential, which would be helpful in timely interventions, the study said.
     
    Although CoVs in the subfamily Coronavirinae do not usually produce clinical symptoms in their natural hosts (bats), accidental transmission of these viruses to humans and other animals may result in respiratory, enteric, hepatic or neurologic diseases of variable severity. It is still not understood as to why only certain CoVs can infect people, the study said.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

     

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    Mid-life Lifestyle Changes May Reduce Risk of Stroke in Women, Finds Study
    Women well into middle age can still reduce their risk for stroke by eating well, exercising and not smoking, according to a new study published recently in the scientific journal Stroke.
     
    After analysis of data from 60,000 women in their 50s, 60s and 70s, the study found that women’s risk of stroke drops by 25% simply by making healthier lifestyle choices. Modifications in one’s diet were found to reduce stroke risk by as much as 23%, the study reports. 
     
     The co-author of this study, Dr Goodarz Danaei, an associate professor of cardiovascular health at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health (Boston), said, "Women who made lifestyle modifications in middle age reduced their long-term risk of total stroke by nearly a quarter and ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, by more than one-third."
     
    According to the American Stroke Association, women are more likely than men to have a stroke, die from stroke and have poorer health and physical function after suffering a stroke. Based on these assumptions, Dr Danaei and his team theorised that making mid-life lifestyle changes might help reduce risk of stroke among women. The team tested their hypothesis, with assistance of data from the “Nurses' Health Study” in the US, which includes health information on nearly 60,000 women who participated at 52 years of age (on average), and were followed for a period of 26 years.
     
    Their key focus areas for healthy lifestyle changes were: the impact of smoking cessation, exercising for 30 minutes or more daily, and gradual weight loss for women who were overweight. They also studied the impact of making recommended dietary modifications which emphasise eating more fish, nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, as well as less red meat, no processed meat and less alcohol.
     
    Their analysis found that 4.7% women who made no lifestyle interventions had a stroke of any type, with 2.4% having an ischemic stroke and 0.7% having a hemorrhagic stroke. However, engaging in the three non-dietary interventions - quitting smoking, daily exercise and weight loss - was estimated to reduce the risk of stroke overall by 25% and ischemic stroke by 36%. Furthermore, sustained dietary changes reduced the risk of total stroke by 23%. 
     
    The study has also reported that increasing fish and nut consumption, and reducing unprocessed red meat consumption appears to have a positive impact on reducing stroke risk. However, it was observed that the degree of impact from these dietary changes was not as significant as those achieved through either increased physical activity, quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight.
     
    Researchers believe that these lifestyle choices do not necessarily have to be ingrained from a young age. As long as they are adopted in mid-life, they can still be beneficial. “We found that changing to a healthy lifestyle, even in your 50s, still has the potential to prevent strokes,” explained Dr Danaei.
     
    Readers should be aware that this was an observational study which included mostly white, middle-aged women. However, the researchers have cited other studies to support the proportional changes in stroke risk from lifestyle and dietary modifications to arrive at their conclusion and are confident that the findings are generally applicable to all women. 
     
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