Five majors annouce Project ASMAN to reduce maternal & newborn mortality

A healthcare initiative — Project Asman — aimed at reducing infant, neonatal and maternal mortality in India, was launched today by a consortium of leading private and development sector partners.

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The project is an alliance between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, MSD India (through its MSD for Mothers programme), Reliance Foundation, Tata Trusts and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“Project Asman will work towards facilitating the availability of quality healthcare under the five pillars of the Government of India’s Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child Health and Adolescent Health Program (RMNCH+A),” a release from Asman said.

The initiative was jointly unveiled by Alkesh Wadhwani, Deputy Director, Integrated Delivery, India, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Kenneth C Frazier, Chairman & CEO, MSD, Nita Ambani, Founder and Chairperson, Reliance Foundation, RK Krishna Kumar, Trustee – Tata Trusts, and Ambassador Jonathan Addleton, Mission Director, USAID/India, in the presence Union Minister for Women & Child Development, Maneka Gandhi and other senior officials.

Asman seeks to create a model for bringing private players together to make significant progress in attaining the goals of providing healthcare for all and to steer the nation towards making a mark in the Sustainable Development Goals.

Commenting on the launch of Project Asman, Nita Ambani, Founder and Chairperson, Reliance Foundation said, “I believe that every life must be cared for and we should strive for a healthy India, where no mother is lost to child birth and every child can live life to his or her fullest potential. This is possible through smart, strong and sustainable partnerships. I am proud to be part of an alliance with which Reliance Foundation shares such strong synergies – institutions that share the same passion and commitment to tackle massive national challenges on a mission mode. For me, this partnership goes beyond just funding but leveraging our rich institutional experience, valued expertise and a strong shared commitment to improving mother and child survival in India. ĀSMĀN gives me hope that change is possible.”

Alkesh Wadhwani, Deputy Director, Integrated Delivery, India, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said, “The foundation is deeply committed to improving maternal and child health in India.”

Kenneth Frazier, MSD said, “We must never lose focus on the health of mothers and children, even one preventable death is unacceptable.”

RK Krishna Kumar, Trustee, Tata Trusts said, “Tata Trusts for the last hundred years, have been waging a battle against maternal, neonatal and child mortality. With this alliance, we offer our support through resources and infrastructure; safeguarding and promoting the health and wellbeing of every mother and child.”

On the occasion, Ambassador Jonathan Addleton, USAID Mission Director to India, said: “USAID, on behalf of the United States, is fully committed to partnering with the Government of India, private sector and civil society to identify and replicate high-impact solutions to ensure that no woman or child in the country dies due to preventable causes.”

India is the world’s second most populated country and observes over 30 million pregnancies every year. Of this, 27 million women reach the stage of delivery and over 56,000 mothers die during or within 48 hours of delivery, the release said.

“The first 48 hours are equally critical for the child, as 50% of neonatal deaths happen in the first 48 hours. Presently, the states most acutely affected by concerns of Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), Neonatal Mortality Rate (NMR) and Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) are Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh,” the release said.

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