The Bihar Innovation Lab is a venture of potentially epic proportions. It Â is a collaboration between the State Government of Bihar, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Center for Knowledge Societies.
A key argument positioned by the Bihar Innovation Lab is that there is a need to drive conversations around the provision of tailored care to mothers and children. At present the public health system has a standardized response to the so called â€˜problemsâ€™ in public health.
The lab believes that the public health systemâ€™s response to a woman with a haemoglobin of 6 cannot be the same, as that given to a woman with a haemoglobin of 9, especially since her condition is far more serious.
This absence of a variegated care provision framework is what we believe is a large contributor to the loss of lives. The provision of care (in this scenario that would mean counseling information) needs to be focused upon behavior change, which isn’t the case as of now. As of now the front line worker considers the provision of information as being her duty rather than ensuring that information has been internalized and actualized upon, which we believe is the need of the hour.
The lab is therefore throwing its energies into designing care provision frameworks and tools that can aid the front line worker in providing tailored care.
The lab is now making rapid progress in creating tools that can function in low resource environments, that co-relate essential vitals of the woman on-field in real time. Patient data is often senseless collected on the field, now is the opportunity to empower the front line worker by enabling real time sense making of that data.
This constitutes what economists would popularly call â€˜low hanging fruitâ€™. It is a no brainer, that there is a tremendous potential to save multiple lives, purely by understanding and recognizing which mothers are at greater risk than other mothers. Even if the present system can purely identify cases that need more intervention as compared to others, it will be a significant battle won.
However the Bihar Innovation Lab is aspiring to do something more ambitious.The Lab is envisioning the creation of personalized health profiles through these tools, that can provide the front line worker with a referencing point which can act as an anchor for the advice that she has to be given.
Will the lab be successful in its effort to implement this change in the public health ecology in Bihar? Only time will tell. However, we must remember that the ambition for public health should not be lowered because of the fact that it’s less costly than privatized health care. A life lost due to a preventable cause is a life lost, regardless of whether that life was lost in a private clinic or a government hospital.
If you want to know how strong a countryâ€™s health system is
Look at the well being of its mother. Â –Hilary Clinton