Prof O N Bhakoo and Prof Meharban Singh envisioned that collection of standardized neonatal-perinatal data is a pillar of newborn care quality at the individual centre level as well as at the national level. With this in mind way back in 1988, they convened a national workshop on Neonatal Nomenclature and Data Collection under the aegis of NNF. Following a gap of seven years, under able leadership of Dr Vinod Paul, the National Neonatology Forum (NNF) first launched National Neonatal-Perinatal Database (NNPD) initiative in 1995 using locally developed software. This was repeated in 2000 by 16 centres in the country. In 2002-03, a network of 18 institutions, supported by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), has succeeded in: (a) providing valuable information on stillbirths and neonatal morbidity and mortality including profile, burden and determinants; (b) standardizing definitions and data collection and analysis protocols; (c) developing capacity for newborn health research; and (d) developing research network mechanisms. This is first time when detailed information on individual babies from all centre was gathered prospectively over two full calendar years. It encompassed a electronic data entry for over two lakhs births for over 300 variables. Ten of the sites are linked to district level hospitals as well, and community extensions can be visualized in future. The WHO Collaborating Centre (WHO-CC) for Training and Research in Newborn Care at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi was the Nodal Centre for this Network. The report will is of considerable help to planners, researchers and healthcare providers, who are committed to improve neonatal health care services in the country.
For the participating institutions, it has been an educative and rewarding experience. A systematic approach for collection of data and team-work has been the hallmark of this effort and we are sure that you will see these reflected in the report. We were also able to ensure that data collection from each centre was fully computerized and there was a qualitative improvement as compared to previous initiatives.
There is a compelling need to obtain, compile, analyze and disseminate reliable data on neonatal-perinatal health collected prospectively on uniform format from different countries. It was with this goal that the establishment of a SEA Neonatal-Perinatal Database Network was proposed in year 2005 and for the first time with support from WHO-SEARO in 2007-08, South-Asia NNP network was launched in six countries comprising a centre of excellence each (Bangladesh, Nepal, Srilanka, Thailand, Indonesia, India).
We hope that in the coming years, this initiative of networking all the centres that care for newborns in the country would continue. Each state and region in India will be encouraged and mentored to develop their own local networks under able local leadership in consultation with State NNF. In future muliti-centric studies on priority research issues relevant to our country would be addressed through this Network. This Network will also aim to improve Quality of Care for sick babies by introducing evidence based management guidelines all across the regional Network Centres.