IIT Madras develops VR tools to tackle maternal & newborn deaths in India

(IANS) Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras developed tools using virtual reality (VR), gaming, cloud, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML), to help improve newborn and maternal health India.

Using these technologies, the researchers aim to train the health workers at the primary health cares (PHCs).

The training will begin from PHC health workers in Tamil Nadu under National Health Mission and will later be scaled to other states in India where neonatal health and maternal health is very high.

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.

Infant Mortality is the biggest contributor is Neonatal Mortality Rate (NMR) which is death within 28 days of birth. Around 40 babies are lost per every 1,000 births.

“We want to bring this down to single digits and all these initiatives are towards this direction. We assure that these tools will now be provided to the healthcare workers in delivery points and we will also have special training points,” said Dr Darez Ahamed IAS, Mission Director, National Health Mission Tamil Nadu, in a statement.

He requested IIT Madras to also develop tools to train healthcare workers in various other areas such as treating accident victims, among numerous others.

The team also launched a SmartFHR project to reduce Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR). It 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.

Neonatal Health and Maternal health are crucial to increasing equity and reducing poverty in any country, which leads to solving large broader, economic, social and developmental challenges.

“We need to bring in technology that will be accessible to rural India and this technology is a step in that direction. This was one of the key learnings from Covid-19 Pandemic,” said Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, in the statement.

“I am sure Virtual Reality will make an impact not only in healthcare verticals but in other areas as well,” Kamakoti said.

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