Humans of Safe Care, Saving Lives

This is part of a series of profiles of the dedicated individuals behind the Safe Care, Saving Lives project. Safe Care, Saving Lives is a quality improvement project to improve neonatal care in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. 

Dr. Naima Fathima, MD, MRCOG, Professor, SVS Medical College Hospital in Mahabubnagar, Telangana

“I was born in a conventional family in Mahbubnagar. Fortunately, my parents were forward looking and dreamed big for me. They wanted me to become a doctor and serve the poor and the needy. However, at a very tender age I was afflicted with polio. That was a big setback, but that did not deter my parents to dream big about my future. By God’s grace and the unending efforts of my parents, I completed my medical education and later specialized in obstetrics and gynecology. In 2004, I joined the National Health Service foundation trust hospital in the United Kingdom to gain international exposure in the field of obstetrics and gynecology. In the UK, I was surprised to see the care delivered to pregnant ladies, which was in striking contrast to the quality of care in many of the facilities back home in India. I realized that the key behind every woman receiving dignified, personalized care was a well organized and coordinated system of midwifery. Later, I returned back to serve my country in 2007, and joined Sri Venkat Sai Medical College, a rural medical college, as teaching has always been my passion.

The plight of poor pregnant women is soul stirring and always motivated me to try and make a small difference in their life. It has always been my dream to see that women have a safe pregnancy, satisfying and pleasing birth experience, and a healthy baby. There have been countless precious moments of seeing a healthy mother with a healthy baby in my career of ten years, which keeps me going.

Recently, I was introduced to the Safe Care, Saving Lives project, which is a Quality Improvement collaborative in the state of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, working in the state insurance trust empaneled hospitals. Knowing their methodology, I realized that my dream of healthy mother and baby could actually be achieved through focused small changes in the process of health care delivered in my facility. For example, using the Safe Care, Saving Lives project methodology, we could achieve compliance to partogram plotting from fifty five percent to seventy eight percent by introducing small changes like ensuring availability of partograph and recurrent training of staff. There was then no looking back. In the past two years, we have made several changes and have been successful in improving asepsis and quality of care in unit by installing wash basins, creating a new kangaroo mother care unit, and much more.

I feel I was fortunate enough to get involved in improvement works as part of the Safe Care, Saving Lives project. It has opened doors to many opportunities of learning. I learned how to approach improvement activities at the grassroots level. I initiated improvements at a very small scale and learned ‘however small the beginning may be; it will lead to a big difference’. The biggest lesson has been to look at the data to guide improvements. Encouraging the nurses and other staff has also helped tremendously. They were more cooperative when they were made part of the change. I received great support from top management, which helped in achieving improvements. Regular visit and support from Safe Care, Saving Lives project mentors and their faith in us to drive improvements has made the critical difference between conventional projects and the Safe Care, Saving Lives project.

I learned, it is not easy to make changes in the system but patience, perseverance, and effort will pay off. On a personal level, this learning experience has enabled me to see every aspect of life from a different perspective. I believe that a small but persistent and collective effort toward quality will help us to make our society a better place.”