Shakuntala Chhabra

Shakuntala Chhabra

Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, India

Title: Preconception / Periconception literacy, care for healthy newborn with safe future


Shakuntala Chhabra is Director-Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, She has served as head of the Department, Obstetrics and Gynaecology at MGIMS (1984-2007), Medical Superintendent of the hospital (2005- 2007) and Dean (2007-10). She is right now helping MGIMS develop a child and mother care hospital at Village Utavali in Melghat, a region with a dubious distinction of high prevalence of severe malnutrition. She received MBBS (1970), DGO (1973) and MD (1975) from the Government Medical College Nagpur. She moved to MGIMS as a lecturer in 1975. In 1984, she was named head of the institute’s Obstetrics and Gynaecology department. She received several awards during her illustrious career. The list includes, but is not limited to: distinguished community services in Emergency Obstetric Care (Federation of International Gynaecologists and Obstetrician), best teacher (Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, Nashik) Dhanwantari Award (Coal India) and best academician-physician (Mahakali Education Society). She has received fellowship of Indian Academy of Juvenile & Adolescent Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Certificate for excellent work in National Family Welfare Programme in Wardha district and also Scroll of Honour of Breast feeding of Promotion Network of India. She also received International fellowships from the British Council; The Network of Community Oriented Educational Institutes for Health Sciences; The Netherlands WHO Aga Khan Foundation; Mother care International, Swedish International Development Agency; Dutch Education Ministry and Maastricht University; Global Health through Education, Training and Service. Over the last 33 years, she has mentored and guided several MD, DGO and PhD students. She is a prolific researcher: she has authored 405 scholarly papers and five chapters in books and some booklets and has held many editorial positions (International Journal of Gynecological Oncology, Women's reproductive health and Gynecological Oncology). She is a reviewer for several journals: British journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Studies in Family Planning, Archives of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Indian Journal of Medical Sciences, Indian Journal of Clinical Medicine, and Who’s Who in Science and Engineering. An Adviser for AGCO, she is a life member of Association of British Council of Scholars and also a member, faculty of Medicine, Rashtra Sant Tukdoji Maharaj Nagpur University. She is a member of the Women and Health Taskforce of the Global Health through Education Training and Services as well as Master trainer for the programme of Prevention of Parent- to- Child-Transmission of HIV, programme for breast feeding and young child feeding, Violence against Women. Dr Chhabra is assessor for National Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, a WHO consultant and a supervisor and lecturer for the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). She was President of Association of Gynaecologic Oncologists of India in 2002. She is the officer- in- charge of the Sevagram Project for welfare of unwed mothers and Community based Reproductive Health Care project. For over two decades she has also served as Chief Executive Officer of Aakanksha. Her special areas of interest include women’s reproductive health, Gynecological Oncology, and education of health professionals.



Context: Health of parents is important for healthy baby. It is essential that they do not have disorders. If disorders are there, are under control, more so in the mother. She must not use or get exposed to anything which affects gamets, conceptus, embryo, foetus and so neonate at birth, beyond. As knowledge, technology are expanding new information, safety concepts too are coming. Community based preconception/interconception/periconception literacy, therapy have emerged as potentially vital tools. It is not only important to ensure mother’s health during pregnancy, birth, postbirth but pre/peri/interconception also. It is essential to have awareness about men’s health too. In many situations, like extremes of age, pre-existing disorders,social problems, pre/peri/interconception literacy offers a lot to keep mother- baby healthy. Women with low pre pregnancy weight, anaemia, other deficiencies are likely to have foetal growth restriction, preterm births, low birth weight babies. Women who are overweight are at greater risk of hypertensive disorders. Women must not be exposed to radiation, harmful medication periconception. Some women might be having cardiac, endocrinal, other disorders, needing special care before conception, during conception, beyond too. They can find their way to referral well in time to get appropriate timely therapy for themselves and babies. Pre/peri/interconception literacy can reduce unplanned, too early and too many pregnancies which affect baby at birth, beyond. Awareness about preventive possibilities, possible dangers during pregnancy, need of behavioural, lifestyle change, seeking timely care, sure reduce perinatal morbidity, mortality, future health of baby. However there are challenges about contents, modalities and providers of such services.

Objective: To have brain storming about whys of pre/peri/interconception literacy/therapy, about contents, and modalities for better neonatal outcome, safe childhood, future and limitations.

Methodology: Presentation by facilitator, Group work and discussion for contents of pre/peri/interconception literacy, modalities likely challenges, limitations.