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A lifesaving procedure to reduce India’s Maternal Mortality Rate

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Dr Mahesh Gupta, high-risk obstetric consultant, Ahmedabad, India explains how the COMOC MG procedure with Healthium’s Suture Needle Combination can help reduce the maternal mortality rate in the India

India, home to one-sixth of all humanity, has made significant efforts in ensuring that it meets the sustainable development goals as laid down by the United Nations. However, there is a major area of concern that has largely remained unnoticed by India with little interventions made to improve the situation.

Target 3.1 of the sustainable development goal aims to reduce the global Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) to less than 70 per 100 000 live births. India stands at a disappointing 130th spot when it comes to MMR, lower than our neighbouring countries of Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Studies suggest that a mother dies every 20 minutes in India due to pregnancy and childbirth related issues.

MMR continues to be a pressing issue in India and one that has, for the most parts, been ignored by the entire ecosystem including the government authorities, health care providers, policy and decision makers as well as the patients. What makes it all the more dismaying is that maternal mortality can be prevented. 

In the face of it all, there are a number of reasons that contribute to the high MMR in India. The public healthcare system in the country continues to be underfunded, as is the case in most of the developing countries. This lends to the fact that MMR continues to be a major area of concern for developing economies.

Additionally, there is a lack of innovation when it comes to addressing preventable causes of MMR. A prime example of this is post-partum haemorrhage (PPH) which is responsible for half of the maternal mortality cases in India.

PPH occurs as a mother is suffering from heavy bleeding after giving birth, and takes the lowest amount of time when it comes to maternal mortality. PPH can kill a delivering mother within two hours if left untreated and remains one of the most avoidable causes contributing to India’s high MMR. Despite this, very little innovation has taken place to address this pressing issue.

An innovative technique conceived by me as a gynaecologist for preventing PPH and reducing the risk of Maternal Mortality is an easy and functional method called COMOC – MG (Compression of Myometrium, Occlusion of Uterine Artery). Healthium Group, a global leader in medical devices, is manufacturing a special suture needle combination to help make this procedure available across India – the suture has a straight needle on one side, and a curved needle with a free-end on the other side.

COMOC-MG method is particularly significant, especially in light of the increasing number of C-Section deliveries. The requirements to adopt this technique are minimal.  All that a surgeon needs is the needled-suture material and some ground training to gynaecologists, obstetricians, healthcare workers to familiarise themselves with this technique.

This too has been addressed in a unique manner using the latest technology. The suture material comes with a leaflet which has a QR code. The QR code can be scanned on a mobile phone, the surgeon can then watch the few, simple and easy steps involved in the technique and perform the life-saving procedure.

While COMOC-MG aims to contribute towards addressing the issue of MMR in India, it is imperative for the medical fraternity to come together and devise more innovative solutions. It is essential to deploy newer scientific methods while also remaining nimble in making decisions that can effectively address the menace of PPH and similar concerns that occur during childbirth. 

One of the key reasons that contributes towards lack of innovation is that while the licensed health care practitioners have more than sufficient medical knowledge; there exists a disinclination that prevents us from trying and adopting something new. This is a roadblock that we must overcome to help the country unleash the next level of innovation and address an array of issues such as maternal mortality rate that continues to plague our nation.

We, together, must learn to do and execute more, for it is when we go past our established comfort zones that we can truly innovate, create impact, and raise the standard of care. It is time that the entire value chain takes a moment to pause, reflect, and act on this on-going forsaken pandemic of maternal mortality.

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