Armman, a non-profit organisation, was awarded a healthcare innovation award by NGO Save the Children India in Worli on Friday for mMitra, its free voice call service for pregnant woman to seek assistance from the time of conception till the first year of the infant.
mMitra, which aims to curb infant and maternal mortality rates, has been used by over 1 million women across seven States since its launch in 2013. With a grant of $115,000 (₹74 lakh), Armman hopes to cover 2.2 million pregnant women and mothers across the country.
The idea of the service took birth on a summer night in 1998 when Dr. Aparna Hegde was in her first year of residency at Sion Hospital. Dr. Hegde was witness to the death of Aruna at the hospital. Aruna breathed her last three days after her baby died due to birth complications at Thane Civil Hospital.
Owing to lack of medical assistance during her pregnancy, Aruna developed gestational diabetes (increase in blood sugar levels). Aruna was brought to the Thane hospital when she went into labour, but she had a obstructed labour. The baby’s head passed through the birth canal, but the shoulders become stuck during labour. The child died instantly. Aruna’s tragic death made Dr. Hegde realise the importance of providing healthcare to pregnant women and avoiding preventable deaths.
“I feel as if I am pregnant,” said an official who made a call via mMitra and “experienced wonderful emotional support” which other apps failed to provide.
Annaswamy Vaidheesh, vice-president and managing director, GlaxoSmithKline India, said, “It isn’t enough to concentrate on the growth of the economy. We also need to concentrate on the growth of people and our children. They are the future.”
Dr. Hegde said, “This isn’t a service with a singular facet. It has empowered women across India who have come in contact with it.” The award hopes to spread awareness of child rights, which according to Dr. Hegde is an area not many are well acquainted with.
Call for change
The award aims to help awardees carry forward their innovation and help build a better and integrated society. “All of us have a responsibility. All of us can do something, if not everything. Change cannot wait. Children cannot wait,” said Thomas Chandy, CEO of Save the Children India.