Gujarat Government has decided to launch a dedicated ambulance service to shift critically ill infants to better-equipped hospitals.
The step has taken to prevent the death of newborns due to lack of medical emergency facilities in health centers.
Under "Neonatal ambulance service project for inter-hospital transfer", the government would deploy 10 specially-equipped ambulances across the state for urgent shifting of newborns to better hospitals.
Infants required to be shifted to better-hospitals, don't survive long-distances
The move comes after the successful completion of a year-long pilot project undertaken at the Jamnagar Civil Hospital, state health commissioner Dr. Jayanti Ravi said.
Ravi said, there were many cases wherein newborns were required to be shifted to Ahmedabad Civil Hospital from Jamnagar for better treatment.
"The journey takes about 5 hours and at times infants don't survive on reaching Ahmedabad," she added.
Project's aim is to minimize the delay to save babies
During the pilot project, the administration was able to save 43 newborns. So, our aim is to minimize this delay so as to save babies, Dr. Ravi said, adding this facility will be linked to "108" service.
As per National Family Health Survey of 2015-16, infant mortality rate in rural areas of Gujarat was 39 (per 1,000 live births) against 27 in urban areas.
Hospitals in rural areas don't have specialist doctors, equipment
Dr. Ravi said, some hospitals in rural areas, may not have specialist doctors or equipment to deal with medical emergencies in newborns.
"We have seen this in the case of (Bhuj's) GK General Hospital wherein parents came with their infants from far-flung areas, traveling in buses and autorickshaws in the scorching heat. This delay was also a cause of infants' deaths," she noted.