Joining Hands for Safer Pregnancies, Healthier Babies

Three-year Singapore-Tamil Nadu partnership comes to a fruitful close after having trained 1,000 healthcare professionals and benefiting 100,000 pregnant mothers across the southern Indian state.

Mr Roy Kho, Consul General, Consulate-General of the Republic of Singapore in Chennai, lights an Indian lamp as a customary gesture to kickstart the leaders’ dialogue. He is flanked by the Tamil Nadu Health Minister, Dr C Vijayabaskar (in white), and fellow Singaporeans from the SIF, TFI, and SingHealth.

Muted discussions reverberated around the cavernous conference room in the Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Specialty Hospital as over 200 healthcare professionals from across the southern state waited for the Enhancing Maternal and Child Health Services (EMCH) Programme’s Leaders’ Dialogue to start. The vibrant discourse that followed the presentations made by healthcare leaders from Singapore and India, as they shared experiences and learnings from their involvement in the project for the past three years, was testimony to the dialogue’s success. Queries and insights stemming from different parts of Tamil Nadu added to the robustness of the discussions. The participants seemed further encouraged in their commitment to the project by the presence of state health leaders including the Health Minister of Tamil Nadu, Dr C Vijayabaskar.

The EMCH Programme was a three-year partnership between the Singapore International Foundation (SIF), Department of Health and Family Welfare (DH&FW), Government of Tamil Nadu, Temasek Foundation International (TFI), and SingHealth. It aimed to bring together healthcare professionals from both countries to train local healthcare professionals in government healthcare institutions in Tamil Nadu to reduce infant mortality rates and maternity mortality rates.

Since 2015, a multi-disciplinary team of 26 healthcare professionals from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore have worked with their counterparts in three districts in Tamil Nadu – Tiruchirappalli, Kanchipuram, and Pudukkottai – to train them for better management of high risk pregnancies. Their efforts have since cascaded in the further training of more than 1,000 doctors, nurses and public health leaders and officials from Tamil Nadu. This has  benefitted more than 100,000 pregnant mothers.

Sharing his thoughts on the EMCH Programme, Dr C Vijayabaskar said, “The Enhancing Maternal and Child Health Services Programme in Tamil Nadu has been an international learning exchange through which we have been able to address gaps in our antenatal care to provide better services and in the process, create a reliable and sustainable healthcare environment for our citizens. It has been our aim to be on par with international standards, and the state government has been working towards this.”

The EMCH Programme is yet another collaborative project between Singaporeans and Indians in healthcare – one of the key focus areas of the SIF’s work. It joins the ranks of similar maternity and child health programmes in Tamil Nadu (2009 – 2013) and Karnataka (2015 – present). It also marks another milestone in the 23-year friendship between the SIF and India to uplift lives and build enduring friendships between our peoples.

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