IIT-M, NHM develop Virtual Reality tools to combat maternal and newborn deaths

Neonatal Health and Maternal health are crucial to increase equity and reduce poverty in any country, which leads to solving large broader, economic, social, and developmental challenges, IIT Madras release said on Wednesday.
Representative image (File Photo)
Representative image (File Photo)

CHENNAI: Researchers of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras are working with the National Health Mission (NHM) of Tamil Nadu to improve newborn and maternal health.

Neonatal Health and Maternal health are crucial to increase equity and reduce poverty in any country, which leads to solving large broader, economic, social, and developmental challenges, IIT Madras release said on Wednesday.

An IIT Madras team at the Centre of Excellence on Virtual Reality (VR) and Haptics, called Experiential Technology Innovation Center (XTIC), identified that skill training of the health workers was a major challenge that India was facing, specifically at the primary health centres in rural settings.

Dr. Darez Ahamed IAS, Mission Director, National Health Mission Tamil Nadu, released the ‘SmartNRP project’ at IIT Madras for rural healthcare workers to reduce the Maternal Mortality Rate (NMR) in India in the presence of Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras.

Neonatal Resuscitation Protocol (NRP) is the global standard in first-aid techniques for newborn babies that are not breathing and crying.

Using VR, Gaming Technologies, cloud, and Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Language (ML), the SmartNRP tool will be used for training the PHC health workers in the State under NHM to take the technologies forward. This will be scaled subsequently to other states in India where NMR is very high.

Further, Darez Ahamed also released the ‘SmartFHR project’ to reduce Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), which is aimed at monitoring foetal health using smartphones anywhere and anytime without clinical assistants. This project also will be scaled subsequently to other states where MMR is very high.

According to the IIT Madras research team, most technologies utilised for skill training in healthcare were currently imported and did not address the unique challenges of India’s skill training - scalability, limited resources, and dense population in rural settings.

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