Home Based Visit Project
Project Leader: Vasanth Kuppuswamy
The HCBF Home-Based Care Project is a program based in Tamil Nadu that aims to improve infant morbidity and mortality through home visits by trained nurses promoting well-newborn care and identifying acute health issues. The nurses, who live in the same community as many of the infants in the program, and visit infants once a week in the critical first month of life and once a month thereafter. They examine the child for acute health care needs, track growth and development, check immunization status, and offer anticipatory guidance on breastfeeding, diet, infant safety, sanitation, and other common aspects of infant care. We believe this in-home personal guidance by nurses will increase breastfeeding practices, increase immunization coverage, decrease the number of respiratory and diarrheal illnesses, provide early identification of growth and development problems and ultimately decrease infant mortality.

The pilot program was first implemented in February 2013 in a rural part of the Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu, India. Four home health nurses were trained by our staff and have visited over 300 infants in four villages. They are have been met warmly by parents in the villages who are eager to get guidance from trained nurses. In the future, we hope to expand this project to other villages and to recruit women while they are pregnant.

We are currently looking for volunteers (college students, medical students, physicians, nurses, physical therapists, dentists, information technology professionals) to help us further our program. If you would like to get involved, please email us at

Immunization Coverage and Attitudes toward Immunization in an Urban South Indian Population
Project Leader: Kalpana Manthiram

Vaccines are considered one of the greatest public health achievements and are major pillars of preventative care.  In Tamil Nadu, India, vaccines for polio, TB, hepatitis B, diphtheria, pertussis, tetantus, and measles are mandatory and supplied for free by the Indian government.  However, families must pay to obtain all other vaccines (considered “optional”) including those for rotavirus, influenza, pneumococcus and H. influenzae; this puts these vaccines out of the reach of many families living in Pallavaram, India.  Because respiratory and diarrheal diseases are major causes of morbidity in this population, increased access to these “optional” vaccines has the potential to greatly improve child health. 

The goals of our project were to (1) assess immunization coverage and socio-demographic factors affecting immunization status for young children and (2) examine parental attitudes and knowledge about immunizations in Pallavaram.  We hope to use this information to enhance vaccine delivery from the Pallavaram Children’s Medical Center (PCMC).  We used the WHO cluster method to do door-to-door surveys of 210 families and estimate immunization coverage of both the mandatory and optional immunizations.  In addition, we did 21 in-depth interviews with parents about their thoughts and knowledge about immunizations.  We are in the process of completing data analysis and publishing our results.  We received invaluable mentorship from Dr. Areej Hassan at Children’s Hospital Boston and help from the YRG CARE IRB in Chennai, Children’s Hospital Boston, and the staff at PCMC.

Evaluating the Nutrition Transition in Chennai
Project Leader: Anita Ram

The “nutrition transition” is the pattern whereby developing countries shift from a stage of undernutrition and receding famine to one dominated by nutrition-related non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. The early stages of the nutrition transition is likely the most critical period for public health interventions to best prevent nutrition-related non-communicable diseases from reaching the epidemic proportions seen in the United States. Public health efforts aimed at reducing the burden of prevent nutrition-related non-communicable diseases must be targeted at today’s generation of children since they are most susceptible to cultivate the unhealthy behaviors associated with India’s globalization, urbanization, and rapid economic development. For this project, nearly 100 mothers and children were interviewed to assess family dietary and physical activity patterns as well as barriers to healthful lifestyles in Chennai. In addition to interviews and survey data, body measurements were collected to identify variables associated with a child’s likelihood of being overweight, average weight, overweight, or obese.