The Australian pair providing hand-ons childbirth training to Indian doctors

An Australian couple is hoping to bring basic education to remote parts of India, in a bid to reduce the rates of mother and newborn mortality.

Dr Atul Malhotra and Dr Arunaz Kumar are a neonatologist and obstetrician team. They also happen to be husband and wife.

For years, they've been working with families who experienced difficult births at Monash Children's Hospital and Monash Health, in Melbourne's south east. 

Now they're piloting a program to help rural Indian hospitals tackle the risks associated with childbirth.

The Punjab region of India was identified by Dr Malhotra as an area that would benefit from the expertise they had to offer.

“I set up the simulator, and told the midwife, ok, just think of this as a real woman. What would you do?”
“The gap, we realised most of them have, is that they're taught in their medical school or nursing school or wherever they come from, about what is childbirth, and what to expect and so forth, but there is no hands-on, skills training."

Their focus in India was to help prevent deaths associated with complicated births, for both mother and child.

Using sophisticated simulation technology, they are providing training to health workers.

Dr Kumar said one objective was to help them understand the complications causing mass bleeding, uterine rupture, and perinatal asphyxia which can cause death or long-term brain damage in newborns.

“I set up the simulator, and told the midwife, ok, just think of this as a real woman. What would you do?

“They were amazed. They couldn't believe that such training existed.”

Dr Kumar and Dr Malhotra migrated to Australia from India 13-years-ago, and have experienced their home country's shortcomings first hand.

“There are personal experiences that I can draw upon, where I've seen women suffer, bleed extensively, and nothing much could be done about it,” Dr Kumar told SBS.

“If I knew then what I know now, I probably would have been able to do something about it.”

Postpartum haemorrhage is the biggest killer of new mums in developing countries.

In Australia, it's something we almost never see and that's because it's easily prevented.

“Difficult births and babies who are compromised - probably five-to-10 times a week, we see those kinds of situations five-to-10 times a year. It's huge. And I'm just talking about one institute.”

They hope they can drastically reduce that number and expand their program to other developing nations.

For Dr Malhotra and Dr Kumar, it's also about giving back.

“It was always there, that, doesn't matter where we may be, which part of the world, we would always go back and do something to help the women.”

3 min read
Published 25 December 2016 at 7:57pm
By Sarah Abo