The health of women and children has been an abiding development concern in India right since Independence. It is estimated that around 60 thousand women in the country die every year due to complications associated with pregnancy and delivery while many more suffer from pregnancy and birth related ill-health. It is also estimated that every year around 1.25 million new born fail to survive up to their first birth day.
Most of these premature deaths can be prevented. The available medical technology has the potential of preventing more than 95 per cent of all maternal deaths and infant deaths. The most common reason why this potential could not be realized is that the health care delivery system is not able to deliver even the low cost appropriate medical technology to all pregnant women and children. It is argued that if the efficiency of the health care delivery system is improved in terms of ensuring universal access to all pregnant women and children to maternal and child health services, reduction in maternal, infant and child mortality can be accelerated significantly.
Mother and Child Tracking System (MCTS) is an IT enabled application (http://nrhmmcts.nic.in) which will facilitate monitoring of universal access to maternal and child health services by all pregnant women and children. The system is developed jointly by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and National Informatics Centre and it was launched by the Government of India in December 2009 in collaboration with States/UTs. It is an innovative application of the information technology directed towards improving the efficiency of maternal and child health services. MCTS is designed to capture and track all pregnant women right from conception up to 42 days post partum and all new born up to five years of age to ensure that the pregnant woman and children receive ‘full’ set of medical services thereby contributing to the reduction of maternal, infant and child mortality and achieving the goals laid down in the National Rural Health Mission as well as Millennium Development Goals.
MCTS serves two purposes. It facilitates the service provider at the grass roots level in delivering services to women and children according to their specific needs. At the same time, MCTS supports health and family welfare managers and policy makers in measuring and monitoring the efficiency of the maternal and child health services in terms of needs, effectiveness and capacity, efficiency and evaluating up to what extent the increase in efficiency in the delivery of maternal and child health services has contributed to the decrease in maternal, infant and child mortality. In this way, MCTS facilitates justification of investments in the public health and family welfare services delivery system.
It is a name based tracking system, launched by the Government of India as an innovative application of information technology directed towards improving the health care service delivery system and strengthening the monitoring mechanism. MCTS is designed to capture and track all pregnant women and children so that they receive ‘full’ maternal and child health services and thereby contributes to the reduction in maternal, infant and child morbidity and mortality which is one of the goals of National Rural Health Mission.
The Mother and Child Tracking System may therefore be perceived as an important intervention towards the realization of the goals and objectives of the National Population Policy and the National Health Policy and the Millennium Development Goals. It is envisioned that the Mother and Child Tracking System will facilitate reaching each and every pregnant woman and Child in the country so that appropriate action can be taken at the right time for making the pregnancy and delivery safe and for securing the survival of the mother and the new born by preventing premature death of women and children. Ultimately, the Mother and Child Tracking System will contribute towards enhancing the effectiveness of the public health care delivery system in accelerating the pace of decline in maternal, infant and child mortality and thus will facilitate the process of social and economic development of the country.
The broad objectives of the programme through the software is to reduce infant mortality rate (IMR), to improve the nutritional level of the child, to ensure completion of immunization in children by tracking the proper growth of the individual child, and to reduce mother mortality rate (MMR) and reduce total fertility rate (TFR).
MAIN FEATURES OF THE APPICATION :
MCTS relies heavily on information technology tools and techniques. Innovative application of information technology tools and techniques makes it possible for the grass roots level health care providers to track every pregnant woman during pregnancy and every new born during first five years of life so that basic maternal and child health services can be delivered to them.
Perhaps the most significant feature of MCTS is that it promotes use of information technology by grass roots level health and family welfare service providers and even by the beneficiaries at large. In this way, MCTS also contributes to reduction of the digital divide.
OUTCOMES AND EXPECTATION :
MCTS is expected to contribute significantly towards universal access of all pregnant women and children to maternal and child health services thereby facilitating and accelerating reduction in maternal, infant and child mortality.
MCTS is being implemented all over the country. Once fully scaled up, MCTS will be accessible throughout the country. It will be accessible to the entire population of the country, irrespective of the region, caste, living status, etc.