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Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai March 30 , 2018
The first-of-its-kind digital platform which is today connected with 350 maternity hospitals and nursing homes in urban cities of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi NCR has got 10,000 reviews from new mothers community.

Spearheaded by healthcare company Avegen Pvt. Ltd, under its public health division Almata, the digital platform - is meant to connect pregnant ladies with the right maternal care facility based on Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecological Society of India (FOGSI) recommended WHO Quality of Care indicators (QoC).  

This according to experts will bring down the maternal mortality rate in the country which is the second-highest in the world.

It aims to improve maternal and child health through innovative use of digital technology. Almata uniquely combines expertise in healthcare, digital health, commercial, technology and social enterprise.

Says Aditi Hazra Ganju, co-founder, Avegen Pvt. Ltd, “With the pursuit to improve maternal health, Together aims to help mothers in making an informed choice in choosing the right maternity hospital for them. After the delivery, women can also document their own experiences based on these indicators in order to help other expecting mothers. Together recognises that a successful healthcare initiative must involve a solid partnership with providers, which is why the providers are given a platform that can showcase their facilities.”

This will further help pregnant women seeking a maternity hospital based on clinical data-backed and protocol-based credible information accessible online through the website.

The website enables expecting women to select a hospital for their delivery based on specific QoC indicators that have been scientifically accredited to ensure safe childbirth. QoC includes features like on-time admission, privacy in the room during delivery, mother-newborn bonding, early breastfeeding, communication during labour, counselling before discharge and family planning counselling.

The unique features of the digital platform includes helping expecting women selecting a maternity hospital besides educating and informing about the QoCs, women rights during delivery and specifics she need to consider before selecting a maternity hospital. This in turn helps get credible feedback and analysis on the QoCs to further strengthen reputation and improve the quality of maternity care where required.

WHO - PV in Public Health Programmes

In order to support WHO (World Health Organization) in areas of pharmacovigilance (PV) in public health programmes and regulatory services, Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission (IPC) PV division has been assigned the status of WHO collaborating centre which will help promote medicine safety not only in India and globally but will also provide guidelines and support in policy decision making process of WHO.

There are 7 WHO collaborative centres globally in pharmacovigilance and WHO collaborative centre for PV in public health and regulatory services from India will serve as the eighth centre.

Uppsala Monitoring Centre (UMC) was the first WHO Collaborating Centre to be established for pharmacovigilance when, in 1978, the scientific and technical responsibility of the WHO programme for international drug monitoring was transferred to Sweden.

The WHO programme for international drug monitoring is a group of more than 150 countries that shares the vision of safer and more effective use of medicines. UMC has been responsible for the technical and operational aspects of the programme since 1978.

The UMC is involved closely with WHO HQ in initiatives in promoting pharmacovigilance in HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis treatment programmes that major donors (Global Fund, Gates Foundation and so on) are supporting in countries where only rudimentary systems for pharmacovigilance exist.

Many of the medicines employed by these public health programmes are new and/or have safety concerns associated with them. This includes collaboration with WHO and others on the establishment and training of a pharmacovigilance field force to actively assemble case information from the programme treatment centres.

Other organisations provide staff to enter this data into country-specific databases, using the UMC's VigiFlow software. A team of signal reviewers will be trained to analyse the collected case information and to highlight any indication of new patient safety concerns. Such information will be provided to programme managers and regulatory authorities in each country in which the system is operating as well as to the international community where relevant.

UMC has a key role by providing a number of services like training of the field force in the collection of relevant patient and case details, access to the VigiFlow software for management of individual case safety reports, providing tools for data analysis, training of staff in case assessment, signal analysis and benefit/harm evaluation and communicating results to relevant national authorities and international partners.

Vigiflow is a software given to the Pharmacovigilance Programme of India (PvPI) free of cost and prescribed to Adverse Drug Monitoring Centres (AMCs) based on their efficiency to deliver in terms of frequency and quality of reports.

IPC has been assigned to update information on ADRs that is being reported in India from across all its centres through Vigiflow software to the Uppsala Monitoring Centre (UMC) in Sweden, which is WHO's collaborating centre for international drug monitoring.

Developing PV Programmes in Public Health

The Union health ministry has chalked out a plan to support South East Asia Regulatory Network (SEARN) countries towards integrating their public health programmes with pharmacovigilance activities towards drug safety.

Through this initiative, the Central Drugs Standard Control Authority (CDSCO) of India which is also a member of SEARN will help member countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Korea, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor to build capacity and enable national regulatory authorities of respective nations to fulfil their mandates and safeguard public health.

Dr V Kalaiselvan, principal scientific officer, IPC, informed, “In this regard, we have framed a common questionnaire in pharmacovigilance and Public Health for the SEARN countries to better understand their programmes and how effectively India can provide necessary support for developing and integrating PV programmes in their public health systems.”

CDSCO under the Union health ministry had initiated a nation-wide Pharmacovigilance Programme of India (PvPI) in July 2010 with Ghaziabad-based IPC as the national co-ordinating centre (NCC).

This initiative is very much relevant as many of the medicines used in public health programmes are new and have safety concerns associated with them. This includes collaboration with WHO and others on the establishment and training of a pharmacovigilance field force to actively assemble case information from the programme treatment centres.

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