Published: 20th April 2022
Researchers at IIT Madras develop VR tools to boost maternal and natal health
The tools use Artificial Intelligence and gaming technology in order to provide healthcare workers with adequate knowledge on the health of infants and mothers
A team of researchers at IIT Madras are working in collaboration with the National Health Mission (NHM) of Tamil Nadu in order to improve maternal and natal health. They have developed virtual tools in order to raise awareness about neonatal health that can help educate health workers with the necessary skill sets.
One of these tools is the SmartNRP, which brings the Neonatal Resuscitation Protocol (NRP), a primary first-aid technique deployed on newborns who are not breathing to health workers in rural areas. The team at IIT Madras harnessed Virtual Reality, gaming technologies, AI/ML and cloud technology to bring this tool to life.
The team is out to study what measures need to be in place to reduce infant and maternal mortality and improve health. The Experiential Technology Innovation Centres (XTIC) at the Centre of Excellence on Virtual Reality (VR) and Haptics concluded that skill training of health workers in Primary Health Centres (PHC) in rural areas was a challenge India was coping with. The SmartNRP, and other tools, will be used to train PHC health workers in Tamil Nadu, in a model that will eventually be scaled to other regions of the country, said the institute in a statement. The projects are being supported by CSR initiatives, and are being funded by BillDesk.
Yet another interesting initiative is the SmartFHR project which aims to monitor foetal health and well-being with the help of smartphones. This is being done in order to reduce the need for clinical assistants, which can help in reducing the maternal mortality rate.
The SmartNRP project was launched by Dr Darez Ahamed IAS, Mission Director, National Health Mission of Tamil Nadu on April 19. The Director of IIT Madras Prof V Kamakoti was also present at the event, along with the neonatologists and various other stakeholders.
On the occasion, Dr Darez Ahamed said, “IIT Madras should also develop tools to train healthcare workers in various other areas such as treating accident victims, among numerous others. These tools prove that there are numerous other areas where VR can be utilised. Tamil Nadu will use these tools to improve newborn health.”