n the last few years, India has made encouraging improvements in the arena of maternal and newborn healthcare. In the year 2015, the Infant Mortality Rate per 1000 live births was 37 which came down to 30 in 2019. While these are still very high numbers, in many parts of the country the situation is even worse than the national average. For instance, the IMR in many large states such as UP, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Assam, and Chhattisgarh is over 40. Similarly, when we look at the Maternal Mortality Rate, the national average is 8.1, but it is in double digits in all the above states and more than 20 in Uttar Pradesh.
These are large states, and even within them there are bound to be remote and rural districts where the condition is even more challenging than the state average.1 Evidently, these are low-resource regions where we need to augment human efforts with innovative health tech to improve coverage and outcomes.
One of the biggest reasons why India continues to lose so many precious lives to avoidable causes is the lack of access to healthcare and diagnostics. When we evaluate the scenario for the states mentioned above, it is not difficult to find that there are very few medical and diagnostic facilities available in rural areas. People need to travel several kilometers for quality treatment or accurate diagnostic support. Building conventional infrastructure and adequate numbers of doctors and a trained healthcare workforce to effectively fulfill the needs of the 1.4 billion Indians would take decades of effort and consistently high investments. The best and fastest alternative is to integrate innovative healthcare technologies for improving maternal and newborn health in these low-resource regions.
Need to provide diagnostic coverage to underserved regions
POC diagnostics services facilitate a diversity of medical tests to be conducted in the vicinity of the patient such as village or colony levels, and even though door-to-door testing, doesn’t require conventional laboratory apparatus or qualified technicians. These services are simple, fast, and highly affordable and can perfectly complement the needs of rural India where most of the healthcare expenditure must be met out-of-pocket by the patients or their family members. The POC testing can help in diagnosing various health issues such as infections, anemia, diabetes, hypertension, etc., and timely detection of such issues can prevent complications in maternal and neonatal health.