#1 (07 Aug, 2017)
#2 (03 Aug, 2017)
The moment you enquire about the Anganwadi in the Pokhardiha, the villagers start talking about Meena. Meena who almostdied... Meena, who was going to be buried by her family because she was born so frail and weak that they couldn’t feel her pulse. To her family, based out of thishamlet in the remote corners of Jharkhand, the only logical solution was tobury her body. Until this news reached Lilabai, the Anganwadi worker. Lilabaiis said to have rushed to the family, revived the child and brought her back tolife.
She taught the new mother how to take care ofthe little one and kept a routine check to make sure she started growing uphealthy. From pre natal and post natal care to keeping a track of the health condition of every child in the village, Lila doesn’t let the ball drop when it comes to her work. She makes home visits to every household that has a child.
Lila is one of those thousands of Anganwadi workers in our country who get meagre amounts as honorarium and are certainly not obliged to work beyond their duty hours or what they are entitled do. But they do.
No different from her is Mirabai Devi, living a little further away in a village called Dhab. She underwent a training conducted by Rashtriya Jharkhand Seva Sansthan, a project supported by CRY –Child Rights and You where she came to know she came to know that the food that can be afforded with the budget that the Government has allocated for the hot cooked meals in the Anganwadis does not manage to give our children the nutrition they deserve.
She mobilised every mother in her village to help her build a kitchen garden behind the Anganwadi Bhavan. This kitchengarden grows nutritious vegetables to add to the diet of the children andsupplements their nutrition.
It has also managed to build a group of mothers– a Mata Samiti – who do everything from ensuring that every pregnant woman enrols herself to the Anganwadi, to tending to the kitchen garden, to sending every child to the Anganwadi everyday and stepping in when the worker is unwell.
The toughest journey was probably the one traversed by Pinky Birhor, the Anganwadi worker serving the Birhor community.The Birhors are an extremely closed community. They are a hunting and gathering society who were, till very recently considered untouchables.
One of her major challenges, working with such apopulation, was to get the children to the Anganwadi. The concept ofcleanliness and hygiene was absent from this community as a whole.
Hence for her, the biggest breakthrough was to convince parents to bathe the children every day and get them to wash their hands before their meals.
She also took vigorous training from the NGO,and now not only ensures 100% coverage of the children and pregnant and lactating mothers in the community, delivers all six services to the best of her abilities, but also constantly looks to upgrade her skills as a worker.
The question that arises is why would these ladies go the extra mile to ensure that the Anganwadi delivers the services to the best of its ability. The answer to that, is simple.
They know, through untiring efforts made by CRY supported project Rashtriya Jharkhand Seva Sansthan, that it is the first six years that creates the foundation for a healthy life.
In India, only 50% of pregnant women receive complete Antenatal care and 1 million infants die before they can reach their first birthday (Source Census 2011).
It’s time we looked at strengthening our Anganwadis, because clearly, they can make a difference. A huge one at that!
#3 (31 Jul, 2017)
#4 (18 Jul, 2017)
45% Of Child Mortality Can Be Attributed To Malnutrition, And It's An Emergency
As we celebrated World Health Day this year, it is imperative to think back on the many reports we continue to see on children's deaths due to malnutrition.
Whether it is a hamlet in Palghar district of Maharashtra or a one-room tenement nestled deep within the bylanes of a slum in Mumbai, the alarming problem of malnutrition looms large. Like the 15-day-old baby boy born to Seema, a young mother living in the slums of Shivaji Nagar in Mankhurd—weak and weighing a mere 1.3kg and in an incubator for 21 days. The baby survived because of the intervention of a CRY-supported programme but millions of infants are not so lucky.
Sadly, nearly 45% of child deaths can be attributed to various forms of malnutrition; in India about 50% of deaths in children under 5 are related to malnutrition. Which is why it is time we introspect on the reasons as to why we are still unable to curb this menace, once and for all.
Wasting (low weight by height), stunting (low height for age) and underweight (low weight for age) are the three aspects of malnutrition which affect children both in rural and urban India.
Wasting is the result of acute undernutrition resulting from inadequate intake of food and frequent infections, usually seen in the context of poverty and poor hygiene and sanitation. Around 21% of all children under 5 years of age suffer from wasting in India.
It is imperative here to note the fact that the situation with regards to wasting is "critical" in Mumbai (equal to or more then 15% wasting levels in children are considered to be critical)
NHFS 4 data for Maharashtra reveals that:
- 34.4% children under five yrs are stunted (height for age)
- 25.6 % children under five are wasted (weight for height)
- 36% children under 5 yrs are underweight (weight for age)
- Only 56.3 % children (12-23 months) are fully immunised.
- This situation calls for collective efforts involving all the stakeholders to reduce severe acute malnutrition with particular reference to wasting in Mumbai.
CRY's experience provides insight that this is possible to do if the below mentioned aspects are really focused on:
- 1. Convergence between key departments like MCGM, Health and WCD (ICDS services).
- 2. Rigorous capacity building of the community improves uptakes of ICDS and MCGM services.
- 3. Changes in health choices and practices through focused, repetitive and tailored health messaging, building referral linkages, positive role modelling, use of BCC materials and iterative learning.
Adequate investments in terms of increased budgetary allocations for nutrition and health facilities for mother and child should be the key priority of the government.
Investing in children early on ensures critical growth and development at an individual level and also has a larger effect on economic growth.
Let us pledge to give good health to our children and that can happen only with our serious efforts and concern.