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Implementation of a Starter Program in Tamil Nadu

Happy October! It's been a while since I've posted, but I've been working on my project and am back with a lot of news!


Doctor Communication

I've been speaking with doctors in India, specifically pediatric endocrinologists and gynecologists. It turns out that many hospitals in Tamil Nadu, a state in India, do, in fact, offer newborn screenings, and the reason that less than 3% of babies in India are being screened is due to low awareness and acceptance of the program. Other than major hospitals in big cities (such as Chennai in Tamil Nadu), most families in rural and government hospitals, nursing hospitals, and smaller healthcare centers are not willing to get screened. Many doctors do not give many of the details about newborn screenings (such as the consequences if the baby has a disease and goes undiagnosed, the myriad of diseases that can occur, and the prevalence of the diseases), so the test does not seem important. That causes many families to not see a point in paying so much money for a test to diagnose a disease that their child may or may not have.


Awareness Campaign in Hospitals

I will be adding a separate page to this website to summarize all the steps I am taking, but as an overview of my awareness campaign, I created a video presentation outlining the significance of newborn screenings (including costs, diseases, consequences, similar programs, etc) and sent it to hospitals, doctors, a few government officials, and organizations. I also created a set of fliers, pamphlets, and awareness materials. The Paramanantha Child Hospital in Villupurum, Ramakrishna Medical Center LLP in Trichy (through the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India - FOGSI), Abhirami Nursing Home in Chidambaram, Annai Hospital in Panruti, and Kilpauk Medical Hospital in Chennai have agreed to display my awareness materials to patients and expecting mothers as an effort to highlight the importance of newborn screenings and to urge the parents to screen their children.


Fundraising Efforts

In addition to raising awareness in those 5 hospitals about newborn screenings, one hospital in particular, which was also mentioned above, agreed to set up an aid program to fund newborn screenings for low-income families in that hospital (or to make newborn screenings completely free and mandatory for each family, if enough money is raised). However, in order to make that happen, I am starting a fundraiser to reach my goal of around $5,000-$10,000 to launch the program.


In order to do this, I have started a donation page. The link to that page is https://pages.donately.com/newbornscreening/campaign/india-newborn-screening-fundraiser. To help out with the cause, you can do one or more of the following:


  1. Donate to the fundraiser; any amount would be greatly appreciated!

  2. Share the fundraiser and information about the cause to others!

  3. Teach a class (or hold a different type of event) in your community, and collect event/class fees (have the participants pay directly to the donation page). That can be a workshop, competition, bootcamp, weekly class, and more. All class fees will go towards the fundraiser, and you can raise as much as $100 an hour by doing this, so you can make a larger impact than you would through a single donation. I'm looking for as many volunteers as I can. Fill out the form here to get started. Also, volunteer hours can be provided if needed!


Conclusion

To summarize my efforts and initiatives right now, I am working on an awareness campaign to inform expectant mothers about the significance of newborn screenings to increase the screening acceptance rate (amount of families agreeing to pay for the screening) in 5 hospitals (so far). Additionally, I have set up a fundraiser to fund newborn screenings in one hospital; you can help by donating, sharing, or hosting an event, workshop, competition, or class to raise money for the cause. I hope to expand the fundraiser to multiple hospitals soon, to make a more widespread impact.


That's it for now, and feel free to reach out if you're interested in helping out! I would love any type of volunteers for this project. My email is healthdevblog@gmail.com, and as always, don't forget to share and subscribe.

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