As many as six lakh newborns die in India within 28 days of birth due to disease, malnutrition and improper hygiene, according to a UNICEF study. But Vastrr, a Delhi-based NGO, is working towards changing that scenario.
"We hold workshops in government hospitals, which is where women from marginalised backgrounds come," said Colonel Parminder Kaur, who served as a doctor in the armed forces for 14 years before launching Vastrr in 2017.
Colonel Kaur took the step after realising that many pregnant women and new mothers lack awareness on neonatal care. "We tell them about hypothermia, low birth weight issues, swaddling, the right technique of breastfeeding the baby, and the importance of colostrum for the baby's health. We also distribute kits for newborn babies consisting of a set of clothes, a reusable cloth diaper, a baby blanket, a baby plastic sheet, soap and hand sanitiser," she said.
So far, they have educated about 7,000 mothers at various government hospitals, distributed around 3,000 kits for newborn babies, and organised camps at various hospitals and slum areas in Delhi.
Colonel Kaur claimed that while hospitals discharge mothers two to three days after delivery, she stays in touch with them for nearly a month afterwards. "The first 28 days are the most crucial. In case any complication develops, I immediately try to get them the right medical care and resources," she said.
Dr Deepmala Kaul, Deputy Medical Superintendent of the Dada Dev Matri Children's Hospital in Dwarka, told NDTV that NGOs like Vastrr are of great help to the medical fraternity. "Even though we have so many doctors here, the patient footfall is so huge that we have to work round the clock.
Vastrr is of great help in terms of creating a comprehensive awareness and staying in touch with patients for the long term. A more aware mother is key to a healthier baby," she said.