Experiencing newborn care in Bihar

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Ambassador Kamsvåg and Mrs Kamsvåg meeting a mother with a 9-month old baby in Nalanda.

Ambassador Nils Ragnar Kamsvåg regularly tries to visit the different states of India, in order to better understand the economic, political and social situation. This week, the trip went to northeast India, and the state of Bihar. In addition to being the third-largest state of India by population, Bihar has also the highest proportion of young people of any Indian state. During his stay, the Ambassador visited different project sites of the Norway India Partnership Initiative (NIPI) and met with key politicians, as well as students at the Notre Dame Academy for girls.

NIPI is a health program formed in 2006 following an agreement between Prime Ministers of Norway and India to collaborate towards reducing infant and maternal mortality rates in India. Norway’s cooperation with Bihar has been ongoing since the beginning of the initiative. In Bihar, NIPI supports mother and childcare interventions in the districts of Nalanda, Sheikhpura and Jehanabad.

The Ambassador was welcomed at the State Nodal Center for nursing and midwifery in Patna by students who showed him around the skills and IT labs with the latest of nursing study tools such as manikins from Laerdal Health.

In the NIPI supported district of Nalanda, the Ambassador visited the Auxiliary Nurse and Midwife (ANM) training center where he interacted with students of remote locations of Bihar through a video conference facility. Concepts like video conference and computer labs are a novelty to students and faculty who share their great pride and privilege of not only getting educated, but also being upskilled using latest technology in teaching and nursing. NIPI runs these programs through Jhpiego, a foundation of John Hopkins Hospital and University.

The Ambassador had a field visit to the Sub Centre and District Hospital of Nalanda where he had some great conversations with families who has benefitted from NIPI’s Newborn and Family Centered Care programs. The enthusiastic, empowered and proud Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and ANMs had a great time telling about how their knowledge and expertise on mother and childcare practices benefits their community. The Ambassador also witnessed the Emergency Triage and Treatment Centre that has been treating 800 emergency pediatric patients since 2015, before which there was no emergency care facility in Nalanda.

In addition, the Ambassador met with the faculty of Nalanda University and visited the Museum of Bihar, which will have a formal opening on October 2. The reopening of the world’s oldest university and the opening of a state-of-the-art modern museum are both telling of the economic development and political ambitions in the state of Bihar.

The Ambassador also had the pleasure of meeting a range of political actors in Bihar, including Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadhav, BJP President Nityanand Rai and Congress President Ashok Chaudhary. They all provided valuable input in discussions on Bihari politics and economy, and in particular on the way forward in the education and health sectors. The Ambassador also shared some points from the Embassy’s 10 years of experience in these sectors through NIPI.

The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) kindly organized a reception for the Ambassador, where a number of business professionals shared their insight on the private sector developments in Bihar and showed interest in Norway as an investor and trading partner. The Ambassador noted that a number of them had recently returned to Bihar in order to benefit from the growing number of business opportunities.

A highlight of the trip to Bihar was visiting the Notre Dame Academy for girls. A group of students, who were very well prepared and knew an impressive number of things about Norway and international politics, had a conversation with the Ambassador about Norway, India and their wishes for their future careers.

See more photos on the Embassy facebook page.