Despite the spread of women’s education, numerous statutes and awareness campaigns, domestic violence remains an issue that most people hush up.
Often the first and the last place where outsiders come to know that a woman has been abused is the hospital. Now, as part of a US government funded initiative, the BBMP is providing a new mobile app under a project called Soukhya to auxiliary nurse midwives (ANM) in eight of its maternity hospitals to refer cases of women victims of domestic abuse to counsellors.
Nine ANMs in BBMP Referral and Maternity Hospitals at Wilson Garden, Shantinagar, Siddaiah Road, Kodihalli, Bapuji Nagar, Moodalapalya, Avalahalli and Sirsi Circle have already been trained to use the app, ‘CommCare’, which has been developed by Dimagi, a US-based company. The project will be fully rolled out in January.
Jennifer McIntyre, US Consul General (Chennai) visited the Wilson Garden Maternity Hospital on Monday.
Speaking to reporters, she said the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced a $500,000 grant for the implementation of Soukhya.
CommCare will help ANMs record details of patients who carry tell-tale signs of domestic violence.
An automatic message is sent to specially designated counsellors informing them that a certain patient requires help to deal with domestic violence. The application also supports Kannada text.
“Under this project, doctors and nurses have been trained to detect signs of domestic violence in women who come to corporation hospitals for antenatal care. During the pilot phase of three years, we developed a protocol to detect signs of domestic violence, which includes women being underweight, bearing physical injuries, missing appointments and having previous abortions,” said Dr Suneeta Krishnan, a senior Epidemiologist with Research Triangle Institute (RTI), US, and adjunct faculty at St John’s Research Institute (SJRI) here.
“We find that 80 per cent of the women, aged between 16 and 25 years from low income areas, who come in for antenatal care have reported domestic violence. In the last six months, 400 women have been screened for domestic violence. Of these, 60 have been counselled and 20 have sought legal recourse,” Dr Krishnan said.
Soukhya is also being funded by the Indian Council for Medical Research and is run jointly by BBMP, RTI and SJRI.
How CommCare Communicates
CommCare is intended to be used by nursing staff in a PHC setting and has three sections. The first section is used to enter demographic details and to enquire women about any domestic problems. The next section is for screening women - first through indirect queries and then directly, to identify cases. The final section consists of reminders to the provider on protocol to be followed and help identify a referral organisation. The content has been developed by the Soukhya team and Dimagi.