Sunday, April 5, 2015

2.6 lakh kids on Mission Indradhanush radar in MP

The Mission Indradhanush, a Central government scheme that promises immunisation to all children by 2020, will cover nearly 2.6 lakh unvaccinated children in 15 districts of Madhya Pradesh, National Health Mission director said on Monday. 
There are over six lakh unvaccinated children in Madhya Pradesh, according to health officials.
The campaign, which will be held in four rounds from April 7, will reach out to partially immunised or unimmunised children in the state, said National Health Mission director Faiz Ahmad Kidwai. He was speaking at a media workshop organised by the health department with support from UNICEF and World Health Organisation.
The mission, depicting seven colours of the rainbow, targets to immunise all children against seven vaccine preventable diseases — diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, childhood tuberculosis, polio, hepatitis B and measles.
Under the mission, the Centre intends to cover 201 high-focus districts, including 15 from Madhya Pradesh, in the first phase of 2015.
"Though immunisation coverage is around 67% in Madhya Pradesh, it is between 50 to 60% in these 15 districts," he said.
The fifteen  high-focus districts of  Madhya Pradesh include Alirajpur, Anuppur, Chhattarpur, Damoh, Jhabua, Mandla, Panna, Raisen, Rewa, Sagar, Satna, Shahdol, Tikamgarh, Umaria and Vidisha.
Kidwai said efforts would be made to achieve 90% immunisation coverage in the state.
Principal secretary of health Pravir Krishn said immunisation was the right of every child.
Krishn said two major reasons for parents not bringing their children for immunisation were lack of awareness and fear of adverse effects following immunisation. He sought media support in these two areas.
Vandana Bhatia, the health specialist at UNICEF in Madhya Pradesh, said, "Right vaccine, at the right age, right dose, safe vaccine, for every child is right which we as stakeholders need to ensure."
Santosh Shukla, the deputy director immunisation of the state, said the campaign would reach out to those who can’t reach them.
OP Tiwari, the Madhya Pradesh regional team leader for WHO, spoke on the training and technical support to the campaign in the state.

Tribal youth in MP learn new ways of problem solving through mobile phones

Hindustan Times, Bhopal, story by Sravani Sarkar
Dhondu Warkhede, a 21-year-old tribal in a remote village in Madhya Pradesh’s Betul district, is intimately attached to his cellphone, a gadget which keeps him connected to the world. But the BSc student has now discovered that his phone could also be used as a problem-fixer.
A training workshop on ‘new media’ organised by NGO Manav Vikas Sansthan with support of Unicef, exposed 30-odd tribal youth to Internet-based applications and use of mobiles to connect to Internet so that they can use it to raise issues on various citizens’ websites.
"I sent an e-mail to an official regarding broken hand pumps in my neighbourhood and I got a positive response. Now, I'm studying the administrative system properly to understand who to approach for what problem," Dhondu said.
Technically, the training was conducted by team of CGNET Swara — a voice portal on which common citizens could report any matter of concern.
The trained youth would also be provided opportunity to connect to the website. The participants were from tribal districts like Betul, Raisen, Sehore, Hoshangbad, Chhindwara and Balaghat.
Sulochana Saryam, a 20-year-old college student from Chhindwara learnt to use Facebook and to send official emails.
"I only used the Internet for my college assignments, but now I understand how I can use it to get problems redressed," the woman said.
Vimlesh Uike of Hoshangabad said he had understood the process of recording for the CGNET Swara portal and added that initiatives like these could be good way to get issues resolved.
Speaking at the meet, Unicef communication specialist Anil Gulati said that new media offers an opportunity for young people to connect to a larger world and make them sensitive towards issues which affect children and young people.
Shubhranshu Choudhary, of CGNET Swara explained the working of the voice portal and the way cell phones could be used to access it to raise issues that affect the youth and their neighborhood.
According to the 2011 census, 2011, the percentage of people with mobile or telephones in the state is 46%.
The report said that 33.5 of the rural population have mobile phones while in urban areas, the percentage of mobile users was  61. However, the rural areas in the state are yet to get 3G internet services.

Religious leaders issue appeal on sanitation

About 60 leaders of various religions and sects participated, shared their thinking on sanitation and cleanliness.
Speaking at the meet Trevor Clark, UNICEF Chief Madhya Pradesh said that sanitation is right of each and every child and clean water and sanitation are vital prerequisites for reduction in child mortality and the fight against diseases.
Diarrhea and Pneumonia, two major reasons for child death, have direct linkage to open defecation.
Professor Samdong Rimpoche, Chancellor, Sanchi Bodh University that all religions, there is a all religions talk about cleanliness and sanitation and it should be promoted. There is need to look at various scientific research, getting new evidences and promoting positive practices on newer challenges in the area of sanitation.
Syed Mushtaq Ali Nadvi, Shahr Kazi, Swami Hanut Sri (Manat Baba), Gyani Dilip Singh, Behan Reena , Father Shaji E, Dr Kayanat Kazi, Dr Anwar Shaqi, Brahmchari  Amit Jain, Shekar Baba, Swami Balbir Das, Acharya Rajnish Pawar were some of those who were present and shared their views.
Johnson D WASH officer UNICEF made a technical presentation and spoke on the challenges of sanitation, possible reasons of open defecation and need to stop open defecation.
Anil Gulati, Communication Specialist UNICEF, Madhya Pradesh spoke on the objectives of the meet and work with religious leaders and Global Interfaith WASH Alliance.
Girish Updhayay, Senior Journalist, compared the programme and spoke on the possible role of religious leaders. Anil Saumitra, SPANDAN, welcomed the participants and spoke on the need to engage religious leaders.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Our voices need to be heard”: children speak out

Gwalior/Bhopal: ‘Our voices needed to be heard, views taken into account when decisions are taken for us’ was a common voice which came out of a recent meet held at Gwalior on theme of child participation.

Organised by the Madhya Pradesh department of Women Development and UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh, the children spoke about alcoholism, impact of alcoholism on families, and how it is breaking families, said a boy participating in the meet, with tears in his eyes as he was speaking on issues which impact them.

Khusboo, Shabnam, Anjali three children from group of 150 children, made presentation on behalf of children, and views which were expressed by them in the two day meet. They spoke about the challenges of child discrimination particularly girl child, child marriage, and child labour. They suggested that a section or department should be set up in Women and Child Development on child participation so that when decisions are taken which impact their lives, they should be consulted and can make suggestions on it.


Children present at the meet said that State has many schemes but real challenges lies in implementation. Children said there are still challenges of female foeticide and girl child discrimination which needed to be addresses. More than 150 participants which included children from Gwalior, Bhind, Morena and Shivpuri, parents of children were part of this meet.

Trevor Clark, Chief, UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh who was with children said ‘You as adolescent can make use of this power to speak for yourself, for your rights and what you feel is right or wrong happening around you. Children have the right to freedom of expression which empowers children to bring about changes in their own lives, to build a better future.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

UNICEF holds social media camp on sanitation

Mandu, Madhya Pradesh, Sept 12 (IBNS) UNICEF hosted a two- day social media camp at Mandu from Sept 10 to 11, wherein around 30 bloggers, twitters, online Hindi web agencies and active Facebook users from Bhopal and Indore participated. Inaugurating the camp, Manish Mathur,Office in Charge UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh said that the State has number of challenges for children and aim of this camp was to seek support of social media users from MP to raise online discourse on children issues with particular focus on sanitation. Rajesh Bhatia from online web agency Insighttv News thanked UNICEF for organizing a camp like this and said that this will help provide us with the needed technical information which "we would like to bring it online media to help benefit children of the State." Gregor von Medeazza, Water and Sanitation Specialist with UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh made presentation on the theme of sanitation. He said that there has been a progress in the state but still "we have a huge challenge." Around 50 million people still defecate in open, which is not talked, hence the need is to create high visibility around the need and importance of proper and sustained sanitation for children as their right to develop in which social media can contribute. Idhries Ahmad, Communication Officer, UNICEF Delhi shared UNICEF India's work on social media and how Twitter and Facebook could be used to raise issues like sanitation effectively. He also underlined that simple community level interventions can decrease the child mortality and morbidity. Anil Gulati, Communication Specialist, UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh, shared how social media is growing, the difference between social media and networking and how we together can work to bring visibility to issues like sanitation which are not newsy. Participants worked in groups and then shared how they plan to use the information and help in raising discourse on sanitation and also suggestions for UNICEF to work with them to take this camp forward.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Breastfeeding saves lives of children: UNICEF

The Pioneer : Friday: July 19, 2013

Manish Mathur, Programme Manager of UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh said that breastfeeding saves lives of children. He was speaking at the media interaction held at Indore on Thursday.  He shared that first week of August is globally marked as ‘World Breast feeding Week’ to promote, protect and support breastfeeding.

This year, the theme of World Breastfeeding Week is 'breastfeeding support close to mothers'. The aim of the meeting was to seek media’s support to promote breastfeeding as one of the most critical interventions which can help bring down infant mortality. Ajay Chaturvedi, Director Press Information Bureau, media can play an important role in promotin the importance of breastfeeding. Media can play vital role in reaching out to communities with this life saving message.

Aparna Munshi, Nutrition Officer, UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh shared that early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour, exclusive breastfeeding till six months of age and age appropriate complementary feeding after six months with continued breastfeeding till at least two years can help bring down under infant and under five mortality rate. She shared that as per survey done by National Institute of Nutrition for Government of Madhya Pradesh in the year 2010, 26.4 per cent breastfeed children within one hour of birth and 71 per cent exclusively breastfeed children till six months of age.

Sharad Pandit, Joint Director Health and Family Welfare, Indore division, spoke on the State initiatives and efforts being done to promote this intervention. He added that though there are challenges, but Department is taking steps like appointment of breastfeeding counselors at district hospitals, village health and nutrition days at AWCs to promote breastfeeding behaviour. Dr Manjula Chaturvedi, Deputy Director Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Madhya Pradesh said it is a social issue, and needs behavior change among communities. Department of Women and Child development is taking steps to reach out with its network of anganwadi centers and using platforms like Mangwal Diwas, to help bring awareness among communities.  Anil Gulati Communication Specialist, UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh coordinated the interaction. Pooja P Vardhan, Additional Director Press Information Bureau, Indore was also present at the meet.

Radio to raise awareness against child marriage

In a meeting hosted on Friday in Bhopal by UNICEF on radio and child rights, radio partners like All India Radio, Radio Mirchi, Red FM, Big FM, MY FM, BBC Media Action Group and community radio stations Radio Azad Hind and Radio Dharkan from Shivpuri participated.

Speaking at the meet Tania Goldner,Chief, UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh, said that radio can help make a difference on issues of child rights particularly creating awareness on Right to Education and child marriage.

She said while speaking on Right to Education that State of Madhya Pradesh has made a progress on education yet we have challenges on quality and learning levels.

And similarly child marriage is a child rights violation and we need to take steps to prevent this and radio can play a role in creating awareness and bringing attention to this issue, she said.

Rashmi Arun Shami, Commissioner Rajya Shiksha Kendra, Gvernment of Madhya Pradesh, shared on the steps being taken by the State Government for promoting school education in the State.

She said that education is a key to prevention of child marriage and radio has a role in motivating families on education and prevention of child marriage.

She shared about the work being done by the education department with All India Radio like Meena Radio, English is Fun, and Jhilmil and the positive feedback the department is receiving for these programmes.

Manish Mathur, Programme Manager, UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh, spoke on the challenges on implementation of right to education, infrastructure gaps, and consequences of child marriage.

He added as per annual health survey data of the year 2010 – 11, 12.5 percent of girls in MP get married before their legal age of marriage, while 18.9 percent of boys get married before their legal age.

Anil Gulati, Communication Specialist with UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh, coordinated the discussion and said that follow up plans included sharing of information so that radio partners can work out content which can help create awareness and also be part of on ground actvities to promote right to education and prevent child marriages.

Shefali Chaturvedi of BBC media action group shared information about 'Khirki Mehndi wali', a programme being produced by BBC media action group.

Representatives of radio partners Pinky Tiwari, Roopak from Radio Mirchi, Garima Shukla and Anuj from Big FM, Rajeev from Red FM shared their thoughts, and how they can and will contribute as part of their corporate social responsibility on these two issues.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Trained newborn aides, SNCU give hope to little ones

Jamal Ayub, TNN: BHOPAL: Equipped with state-of the-art specialized medical care facilities, the Special New Born Care Unit (SNCU) in Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh is and has, till date, saved lives of more than 6000 new-born babies, according to health officials. Funded from NRHM and set up by government of Madhya Pradesh with support from UNICEF, the SNCU provides 24x7 institutional care for infants. Thirty-eight such SNCUs exist in Madhya Pradesh and are helping save lives of thousands of children in the state.

"India accounts for 30 per cent of the neonatal deaths globally. In India, the neonatal mortality rate is 37 per 1,000 live births. Most of these deaths occur within the first days of life - 46.2 % occurring in the first two days of life and 73.3 per cent taking place within the first week of life," said a UNICEF official.
Here new-borns ones get better start to life. A nurse from maternity wing rushed a new born baby to the SNCU. The baby, just a minute old, lied still. He hadn't cried httpost his birth. The silence was deafening.

The SCNU is a neonatal unit in the vicinity of the labour room that provides care to all sick new-born's (except for those requiring assisted ventilation or major surgery).

The nurse was confident, that the little one will make it - the baby was at the right place and in safe hands.

The nurses within seconds put the little-one on the incubator and started reviving him. Minutes later, a faint cry escaped the tiny lips announcing the arrival of the new one to the world.

Few minutes between life and death was heart rendering but happiness prevailed and life won.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Different whistleblowers, these! .

The Pioneer, Bhopal : Children and some elders are trying to stop people from going for open defecation in several villages in Budhni block, Sehore district of State. Over half of the villages in the block are now open defecation free and people are using private toilets with the support of these ‘whistle blowers’, writes TEAM VIVA

They are the whistle blowers but of a different kind. In the wee hours of morning, for several months, children accompanied by some of the elders of the community blew whistles, loud and clear, in several villages in Budhni block in Sehore district of the State.

These whistle blowers were trying to stop people from going for open defecation as the block administration supported by UNICEF took the challenge of making these villages open defecation free.
“Today, if over half of the villages in this block are open defecation free and people are using private toilets, the credit, to a large extent, goes to the children from these villages,” says Chief Executive Officer of Budhni block Ajit Tiwari.

Panchayat Coordination Officer from the same block Dinesh Raikwar, explained how these whistle blowers worked, “There were areas in every village where people used to defecate openly especially during early morning hours. The children in villages formed groups and kept a watch on such areas.”
“If we found anyone defecating in the open, we would start blowing whistles. This alerted other villagers who pulled up those open defecators,” said Amir Khan, a teenager who was active member of one such group in Pilikrar village of Budhni block.

Pilikrar village, like so many other villages in the Block, has managed to become completely open defecation free under the community led total sanitation (CLTS) approach supported by UNICEF. The village has 240 households out of which 129 are below poverty line.

“Even the BPL families did not hesitate in setting up private toilets at their own expense initially because they realised that open defecation is leading to serious health problems,” said the local ASHA worker Sunita Ivne who also informed that the number of diarrhoea cases affecting children has gone down considerably ever since the village became open defecation free end of last year.
Fifty-year-old Manibai, a resident of Pilikrar village fully agrees: “I have two grandchildren. Earlier they used to fall sick regularly but now they haven’t fallen sick for almost a year ever since the village became open defecation free.”

“What has been done in those villages is to motivate the communities for themselves to lead the process of rendering their villages ODF, so to ensure that their villages remain sanitised in a sustainable manner,” explains UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist Gregor von Medeazza.
“Children being an important part of the community played a key role in this regard. There were several villages where children motivated their families to build their own private toilets,” he added.
“We explain to even smaller children at Anganwadi Centres, why open defecation should not be done. Children go back to their families and are often able to convince their own parents to stop doing that. The role played by children of all age groups is very important in this regard,” says Anganwadi worker at Pilikrar village Kiran Malwi.

“The majority of the 138 villages of Budhni block are now in the process of becoming Open Defecation Free, with over half of them which have already reached their target in eliminating Open Defecation, and all this could be made possible because of the unique approach of Community Led Total Sanitation in which children played a  decisive role,” Tiwari said.

The target is to make the block 100 per cent open defecation free in 2013, he added.

Over 70 per cent in Madhya Pradesh defecate in open: Census
According to the Census 2011 data on houses, household amenities and assets of Madhya Pradesh, more than 70 per cent families in the State defecate in the open, even as the number of mobile/telephone users has gone up by 920 per cent in the last decade.

The report was released by the Director of Census Operation Sachin Sinha. The report says 71.2 percent families in Madhya Pradesh have no toilet facility at their premises as against 28.2 per cent families who have lavatories at their residences.

The percentage of families lacking the basic facility has, however, come down marginally from 76 per cent as was the case in 2001 enumeration.

As far as bathroom facility is concerned, the report says that only 25.8 percent families have enclosed bathrooms while 21.4 per cent have them without any roof over it.

On drainage front, 30.1 per cent of population use open drainage, while 60.1 percent families have no facility for drainage whereas only 9.8 per cent families have this facility in their houses.

The issue of enclosed toilets in Madhya Pradesh recently hogged limelight when a tribal woman, Anita Narre, virtually risked her marriage by refusing to return to her husband’s place as it lacked the facility.
The number of mobile/telephone users has gone up by 920 per cent in the last decade with 46 per cent families now using them for communication.

Madhya Pradesh to be free from open defecation in the next five years
In  October the Union minister for drinking water and sanitation Jairam Ramesh said that all villages in Madhya Pradesh will become free from open defecation in the next five years. He was speaking at Nirmal Bharat Yatra programme at Devguraria in Indore.

“MP has 23,000 gram Panchayats out of which 7300 gram Panchayats will be made free from open defecation in the next one year and entire state will be free from open defecation in the next five years,” he said.

Sikkim has become first state of the country to become free from open defecation while Kerala and Himachal Pradesh will be next state to become free from open defecation in next few months.
Ramesh said that a majority of gram panchayats that have received ‘Nirmal gram award’ from the President are not ‘Nirmal’ (clean) ones. Every year union government gives away ‘Nirmal gram award’ to gram panchayats for adopting hygienic practices.

Ramesh said that until now, 2100 gram panchayats have got ‘Nirmal gram award’. “I cannot say the exact number of gram panchayats that have received the award by manipulation, but I can only say for sure that number is huge,” said Ramesh adding that there was a large number of gram panchayats that have got the award. But people hailing from those gram panchayats still defecate in the open. He added that a gram panchayat is nirmal only when women do not have to go in the open for defecation.
He further said that earlier toilets were constructed for Rs 3500, so one can easily understand about their quality. The toilets which were constructed are no more in use. Keeping it in mind, now union government has increased the fund for toilet to Rs 10,000 out of which Rs 4500 will come from MGNERGA. However, the fund will be given only when money will be used for constructing toilets and one ensures its use by his family members.

“A separate allocation will be made for the house headed by widow and handicapped,” said Ramesh adding that along with BPL families now a special category will be created for family headed by widow and handicapped.

Friday, August 3, 2012

मप्र में स्तनपान जागरूकता अभियान शुरू

मध्य प्रदेश स्तनपान को प्रोत्साहित करने के लिए महिला एवं बाल विकास विभाग, स्वास्थ्य विभाग और बच्चों के लिए काम करने वाली संस्था यूनिसेफ ने मिलकर बुधवार को स्तनपान जागरूकता अभियान की शुरुआत की। यह अभियान 37 दिनों का है। इस अभियान के दौरान विशेषज्ञ बच्चों को जन्म देने वाली महिलाओं को परामर्श दे रहे हैं।

अभियान के पहले दिन विशेषज्ञों का एक दल भोपाल के बैरागढ़ के सरकारी अस्पताल में पहुंचा। यहां एक महिला नीतू ने अपनी पहली संतान को जन्म दिया। बच्चे के जन्म की खबर मिलते ही वहां मौजूद विशेषज्ञ महिला के पास पहुंचे और उसे स्तनपान का महत्व बताया। नीतू भी उनकी बात से सहमत थी और यही कारण है कि उसने अपनी बेटी को जन्म के एक घंटे के भीतर ही स्तनपान कराया।

विशेषज्ञों ने नीतू से कहा कि अगर वह अपनी बेटी को तंदुरुस्त रखना चाहती है तो उसे लगातार छह माह तक स्तनपान कराना चाहिए। साथ ही उसे बताया गया कि पहले घंटे से छह माह तक स्तनपान कराने से बच्चे के लिए जरूरी पौष्टिक तत्व, विटामिन व खनिज की पूर्ति हो सकती है।

उल्लेखनीय है कि राज्य में 61.5 फीसदी महिलाएं नवजात को जन्म के एक घंटे के भीतर स्तनपान कराती हैं, मगर छह माह तक यह सिलसिला जारी नहीं रखतीं। अगर छह माह तक स्तनपान कराने वाली महिलाओं पर नजर दौड़ाएं तो पता चलता है कि ऐसी महिलाओं की संख्या सिर्फ 37 फीसदी है।

राज्य में महिलाओं को स्तनपान से होने वाले लाभों का ब्योरा देने के लिए 37 दिन की कार्ययोजना बनाई गई है। इस अवधि में तरह-तरह के कार्यक्रम आयोजित कर विशेषज्ञ महिलाओं को स्तनपान की खूबियां बताएंगे

Breastfeeding helps save children

India Blooms News Service : ‘Cries of a babies, odour of phenyl (used for disinfecting the floor), bright sunlight emitting from windows, soft voice of video, muffled voice of a women speaking, was the scene at the mother’s ward at the district hospital in Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh, in central part of India.

Mothers, with their new borns, born within last 48 hours were lying in the ward. ‘On duty’ auxiliary nurse midwife, identified by the typical green saree, part of her dress, was helping a mother to sit and learn ‘kangaroo mother care’, which is a practice of holding a newborn, skin-to-skin (against the mother’s chest) which keep the babies warm and help babies which have low birth-weight to get the needed physiological and psychological bonding. Nurse on another bed was helping a mother to breastfeed her child, as she had problems with early initiation.

About 30 kilometers away in Kolaras community health centre has an attached nutritional rehabilitation centre, which has about 10 admitted women with their children with severe acute malnutrition. Mothers are being advised by Geeta, the feeding demonstrator on how breastfeeding and complementary feeding can help saves lives of their kids and they can fight back undernutrition.

Since mothers stay here at NRC, Geeta gets a lot of time with them to explain and discuss how important is to exclusively breastfeed their child till six months of age and then on completion of six months, how to prepare and feed semi-solid nutritious food with continued breastfeeding to the child till two years of age.

These are simple intervention, technically called as optimal infant and young child feeding practices. As per UNICEF they are lifesaving.

‘First two years of life are most important and are forever. Evidence tells us that if child is exclusive breastfeed till six months and given age-appropriate complementary feeding on completion of six months with continued breastfeeding till two years of age, it can help reduce infant mortality. This is very important in State like Madhya Pradesh which has the highest rates of infant mortality and child undernutrition’ says Aashima Garg, Nutrition Specialist with UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh.

Madhya Pradesh state has infant mortality rates of 62 per 1000 live births, meaning that out of every 1000 child born today, 62 will die before their first birthday. This is highest in India.

Survey done by National Institute of Nutrition for Government of Madhya Pradesh in year 2010 reported that 52 % of its children, less then five years of age are underweight.

Madhya Pradesh’s indicators on optimal breastfeeding practices are also alarming with only 43% infants are reported to have initiated breastfeeding within one hour of birth and just a third (31%) of the infants aged 6-35 months were exclusively breastfed till 6 months of age as per District level household survey done in year 2007-08.

The findings of recently released Annual Health Survey (2010-11) of Government of India shows promising improvement in the rates of early initiation of breastfeeding (61.5%) but only slight improvement in the rates of exclusive breast feeding (37%), which is alarming for the state.

‘Need is to reach out to all 73 million people of the State with key message of “mothers’ milk in the first six months of life makes children healthier and saves their life” Aashima Garg adds.

First week of August is globally marked as World Breastfeeding Week, bringing in attention to the issue and call on States, civil society organization, and media to propagate the message, which is simple and can help save lives of new borns and infants.

Madhya Pradesh’s Department of Women and Child Development in partnership with Health Department and UNICEF is marking a 37 day special campaign. It starts on Aug 1, 2012 and will continue till National Nutrition week which is marked in Sept.

The campaign will have various activities to be undertaken at village, district, division and state level including contests like drawing, illustrations, slogan writing, quiz proactively using various media channels like print, radio and TV to create awareness on the theme, using sms drive, folk programs at rural areas, Youth groups like National Service Scheme will be undertaking activity based quizzes, contests to propagate message among youth, the future parents.

A special counseling hour will be organized at all health facilities between 11-12 am on Aug 1 to flag the initiation of this 37 days' campaign.

Friday, October 21, 2011

.....When a rural health centre works, it works wonders

Shivpuri (Madhya Pradesh), Oct 20 (IANS) Village woman Lajja was blessed with her second child in the wee hours of the morning at Chharch. The baby was born at the health centre in her village and she feels relaxed, safe and at home. The centre is taking care of her treatment, food and medicine - for free.

It is being funded by the Department of Health and Family Welfare, government of Madhya Pradesh, under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). This is unlike her first baby's birth when she had to travel more than 35 km away from her home. The centre was around at that time but was non-functional. Now it is revamped, expanded and provides 24x7 institutional care for pregnant women and infants. This has been possible due to funding from NRHM and support from Unicef.

It is helping save lives in an area that is 75 km away from the district headquarters and to reach which, one has to cross Kuna jungle. A well-built connecting road has helped. The centre makes an ambulance service available for pregnant women called Janani Express and serves as a vaccination centre for children. It is also the distribution point for vaccines for seven nearby centres.

Poonam, a seven-month-old girl, sits in her mother Jiyo's lap in the covered lawns of the Chharch sub health centre. Jiyo carries her child's immunisation card and waits for her turn to get Poonam vaccinated by an auxiliary nurse.
Poonam was born at a district hospital and was referred there by the Janani Express parked at the centre. Jiyo had problems in her delivery and thanks to the sub health centre and the availability of ambulance service in the remote area, she was taken to the district hospital. Jiyo thanks the staff at the centre and the facilities that helped her give birth.
Chharch village is in Pohri development block, 75 km away from the Shivpuri district headquarters. One has to travel through the Kuno jungle to reach this village. Though now it has a good connecting road to Shivpuri, it is still in the interiors and the nearest health centre is at Pohri, 35-40 km away.

Chharch used to be an old sub heath centre, but today it offers 24x7 services of institutional delivery for pregnant women. More than 500 safe deliveries have happened since its renovation in 2010. Two deliveries happened the day we visited. The sub health centre has had the Janani Express attached to the centre and is available 24x7.
Unicef provided not only financial but technical support to make this centre functional.

'It is a boon for our people,' quips a zila panchayat member.

Chharch has electricity problems, making things difficult for a vaccine storage unit. But now a solar refrigerator has been provided to the centre by Unicef. It also has solar lamps in case its services are needed at night and there is no electricity. Unicef had provided 20 such solar refrigerators to the state which are being used in districts like Sehore, Shivpuri, Dewas, Barwani, Khargone, Jhabua, Bhind, Morena, Chhatarpur and Panna. Chharch is proof of what wonders a fully functional rural health centre can do.

- Anil Gulati

Saturday, September 17, 2011

चम्बल में बेटियों को बचाने के लिए आगे आईं महिलाएं

ग्वालियर। मध्य प्रदेश के ग्वालियर-चम्बल अंचल की पहचान बागी तेवरों के कारण पूरी दुनिया में है। डकैतों का ‘साम्राज्य’ भले ही अब इस इलाके से खत्म हो गया हो, मगर यहां के लोगों के बगावती तेवर अब भी बरकरार हैं। इस बार महिलाओं ने बागी तेवर अपनाते हुए बेटियों को बचाने की मुहिम छेड़ दी है। मध्य प्रदेश के चम्बल इलाके के मुरैना तथा भिंड जिले में बेटियों के जन्म को वर्षों से अभिशाप माना जाता रहा है। यहां आलम यह है कि बेटियों का या तो जन्म से पहले गर्भपात करा दिया जाता है या उन्हें जन्म के बाद मार दिया जाता है। यही कारण है कि यहां बेटियों की संख्या का अनुपात राज्य के अन्य जिलों के मुकाबले सबसे कम है।  
राज्य में शिशु लिंगानुपात 1000 बालकों पर 912 लड़कियां हैं, तो मुरैना में यह आंकड़ा 825 तथा भिंड में 835 है। यह स्थिति हर किसी को चिंता में डाल देने वाली है। सरकार की ओर से जारी कोशिशें भी अपना असर नहीं दिखा पाई हैं। बालिकाओं की कम होती संख्या से चिंतित महिलाएं ही बेटियों को बचाने के लिए आगे आई हैं। आंगनबाड़ी कार्यकर्ता गांव-गांव जाकर महिलाओं को जागरूक कर रही हैं, वे गीत-संगीत व नाटकों के जरिए महिलाओं को बेटी का महत्व बता रही हैं। आंगनबाड़ी कार्यकर्ताओं के ‘मुट्ठी बांधो बहना’ नाम से भिंड व मुरैना जिले में जनजागृति लाने वाले दल बनाए गए हैं। ये दल महिलाओं को बता रहे हैं कि बालिकाएं रहेंगी तो सृ‌ष्टि बचेगी। वे महिलाओं को संदेश दे रही हैं कि किसी भी सूरत में बेटियों को न मारें और न ही ऐसा करने वालों का साथ दें। अगर ऐसा करने को कोई मजबूर करता है, उसके खिलाफ थाने में शिकायत दर्ज कराएं। भिंड जिले के सिंघवारी गांव की बुजुर्ग महिला नारायणी बताती हैं कि किसी दौर में यहां बेटियों को जन्म के साथ ही मारने की कोशिश शुरू हो जाती थी। नवजात के मुंह में तम्बाकू द॓कर मार दिया जाता था। जब ऐसा करने में सफलता नहीं मिलती थी तो उसकी गर्दन दबा दी जाती थी। वह बताती हैं कि पहले से यह प्रवृत्ति कम तो हुई है, मगर पूरी तरह खत्म नहीं हुई है। बेटियों को मारने की प्रवृत्ति का खुलासा अभी हाल ही में भिंड के खरउआ गांव में हुआ, जहां पूर्व सरपंच ने कथित तौर पर अपनी बेटी की हत्या कर दी। महिला बाल विकास के संयुक्‍त संचालक सुरेश तोमर बताते हैं कि बेटी की हत्या करने वाले व्यक्‍ति के खिलाफ कार्रवाई की गई है। वह आगे बताते हैं कि सरकार की ‘लाड़ली लक्ष्मी’ जैसी योजना बेटियों को समस्या मानने वालों की सोच में बदलाव लाने में मददगार बन रही है।
महिलाओं में जागृति लाने के लिए आंगनबाड़ी कार्यकर्ताओं के भिंड व मुरैना में दल बनाए गए हैं। ये दल जब भिंड जिले के सिंघवारी गांव में नाटक प्रस्तुत कर रहे थे तो महिलाएं व बच्चियां इसके गीत-संगीत से प्रभावित नजर आईं, साथ ही उन्होंने बेटियों को बचाने का संकल्प भी लिया, मगर गांव के पुरुष वर्ग के लिए ये महज मनोरंजन से ज्यादा कुछ नहीं थे। दल की सदस्य भी यह बात मानती हैं कि उन्हें कई दफा विषम परिस्थितियों का सामना करना पड़ता है, मगर आखिर मेंं वे अपना संदेश पहुंचाने में सफल हो ही जाती हैं। वे हर रोज दो गांवों में जाकर गीत-संगीत के जरिए महिलाओं को उनका अधिकार भी बता रही हैं और बेटियों को बचाने का संदेश भी दे रही हैं।

Sunday, August 28, 2011

पूरे देश में मानव तस्करी एक बड़ी समस्या

भोपाल.शुक्रवार को यूनीसेफ के तत्वावधान में सेंसटाइजेशन ऑफ पुलिस ऑफिसर्स टूवर्ड्स वलनेरेबल ग्रुप्स एंड ह्यूमन ट्रैफिकिंग इशूज पर दो दिवसीय कार्यशाला का आयोजन नूर-अस-सबाह पैलेस में किया गया। कार्यक्रम का शुभारंभ मुख्य अतिथि गृहमंत्री मप्र उमाशंकर गुप्ता ने दीप प्रज्जवलन कर किया।

इस दौरान कार्यक्रम में विशेष रूप से उपस्थित यूनीसेफ मप्र चीफ डॉ. तान्या गोल्डनर ने अपने विचार रखें। उन्होंने ने बताया कि पूरे देश में मानव तस्करी एक बड़ी समस्या है। यह एक गंभीर समस्या है और चौकाने वाली बात यह है कि इन तस्करी के कारोबार में बच्चों की तस्करी भारी मात्रा में कि जा रही है। उन्होंने ने बताया कि मानव तस्करी पर काबू पाने के लिए हमें कड़े कदम उठाने कि जरुरत है।

इस दौरान उन्होंने शासन के साथ-साथ आमजन से इस के खिलाफ आवाज उठाने की अपील की है। उन्होंने इस मुद्दे पर समाज में जागरुकता की अलख जलाने पर जोर दिया। कार्यक्रम में बतौर मुख्य अतिथि उपस्थित गृहमंत्री उमाशंकर गुप्ता ने इस समस्या से निबटने के लिए कड़े कदम उठाने का आश्वासन दिया। उन्होंने बताया कि इस समस्या से निबटने के लिए हम तैयार हैं और हमारी पुलिस इस मसले पर संवेदनशील भी है।

कार्यक्रम के दूसरे चरण में सेंसटाइजेशन ऑफ पुलिस ऑफिसर्स टूवर्ड्स वलनेरेबल ग्रुप्स विषय पर चर्चा की गई। इस सत्र में उत्तराखंड की रिटायर डीजीपी कंचन चौधरी ने समाज में बच्चों और महिलाओं की स्थिति के बारे में चर्चा की। उन्होंने बताया कि पुलिस को अपने व्यवहारिक कार्य के दौरान लोगों से सहीं व्यवहार रखना चाहिए। उन्होंने इस दौरान बच्चों और महिलाओं के सशक्तिकरण पर बल दिया। उन्होंने बच्चों में तेजी से बढ़ रही अपराध प्रवत्ति के कारणों पर प्रकाश डाला। इस दौरान आईपीएस पी.एम मोहन ने बताया कि आमजन की राय पुलिस के प्रति ठीक नहीं है। वह पुलिस के काम करने के तरीके को गलत समझती है।

इस दो दिवसीय कार्यक्रम में चार-चार सत्र होंगे जिसमें देश के विभिन्न शहरों और प्रान्त से वक्ता अपने विचारों को रखेंगे।

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Media workshop to promote breastfeeding held

Gwalior - The State Department of Women and Child Welfare, along with UNICEF, launched a week-long campaign for world breastfeeding week (August 1-7) on Sunday by organising a workshop for mediapersons on the issue.

Highlighting the importance of breastfeeding to enhance health quotient and safety of child and mother, Joint Director Women and Child Development Department Suresh Tomar said in his opening remarks, “Breastfeeding can help in curbing malnutritionto a large extent.”

“Exclusive breastfeeding for first six months after birth could have the single largest impact on child survival. Media can play an important role by creating awareness and breaking myths on this issue, he added. He thanked UNICEF for supporting a campaign on breastfeeding.

Ajay Gaur, a well-known child specialist said, “An infant must be breastfed within an hour of birth and one should continue breastfeeding a child for atleast upto two years.”

“This has a long lasting impact on child's health and growth and it has been proven scientifically,” he added.

Manoj Verma, a senior journalist emphasised the need to sensitise media on this crucial issues. He said media has a social responsibility to create awareness on such social issue.

A street play on the issue of breastfeeding was staged on this occasion.


Munni Bai is physically challenged and has a limp in one of her legs. But that doesn't stop her from traversing the dusty by-lanes of a remote village in Shivpuri, one of the most backward districts of the country. She lives and works in village Atara of Shivpuri district which is around 150 km away from the hustle and bustle of the State capital.

Atara is no different from lakhs of other villages in the country there is 14 to 16 hour power cut, few private toilets, absence of pucca houses, no regular water supply to homes. However, there is one thing which makes this village different from many others, that is majority of children are healthy and are not malnourished in this village even though the most of the households are very apparently living below the poverty line.

Munni is the force behind increased awareness on breastfeeding in her village. She, in her casual but quite effective style, communicates with not only the women but also the men of the village and ensures that every newborn in this village is fed exclusively on mother's milk for the first six months and the child continues to be breastfed for at least two years after their birth.

"In addition to immunization, it is necessary to emphasise the importance of optimal breastfeeding practices to curb malnutrition," says Munni Bai, adding that this is one of the most effective ways to ensure better health for a child in early years.

"My son is two-and-a-half months old and I ensure that he is being raised for the first six months only on mother's milk. I was told about this by Munni Bai and the doctor in the hospital," says Sadhana, a resident of Atara village.

According to Census of India 2011, Shivpuri has a challenging indicators with 60 per cent children are malnourished, sex ratio of 877 (877 women for every 1000 men), an indicator of distinct gender bias. The child sex ratio in the district is 889. The overall literacy rate for Shivpuri is 63.7 per cent while the female literacy rate stands at 49.5 per cent.

Munni Bai, however, continues to work tirelessly hoping that if her village can be changed many other villages too can change.

Trained by UNICEF, to communicate effectively on such crucial issues, Munni Bai says, "From August 1 to 7, we are observing World Breastfeeding Week in a big way in this village. This time we have roped in men also. After all, mothers do need support of men in the family to ensure that they are able to take care of their children."

About 5 years ago, Munni Bai was identified as a village volunteer as part of joint intervention of UNICEF with district administration and NGOs. Later, she made her way to become anganwadi worker. She works very closely with the Panchayat and other agents trained under the UNICEF assisted projects.

"To begin with we have convinced men in the village that the women should not be working in fields for first two years after the birth of the child. It helps to ensure that the child is breastfed at the right time and does not have to remain hungry just because the mother is busy working in the field," she added.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

An uphill task for M.P.

The Hindu, byline - Vijetha S.N

Vaccines against deadly diseases like polio, tuberculosis and hepatitis B have to be stored, transported and administered with abundant caution or else the results can be disastrous, as was demonstrated to a group of journalists this past week during a field trip to villages around Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh. The trip was organised by the UNICEF in partnership with the Indira Gandhi National Open University.
Madhya Pradesh has been facing the uphill task of trying to achieve full immunisation with regard to its migrant tribal and rural population. “Data for the State shows it is not up to the mark and that there is lack of awareness, lack of education and lot of misconception regarding vaccination,” said UNICEF communication specialist Anil Gulati.

The National Rural Health Mission funds the vaccine process, with the UNICEF providing all the technical help. The vaccine is administered at the village health centres, called sub-centres. In Darai village, a few km from Jabalpur, the anganwadi doubles up as health centre to service its 1,100 population.

The anganwadi, the Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) and the Auxiliary Nurse-Midwife (ANM) workers under the NRHM scheme are directly responsible for the actual administration of the vaccine. The cycle of the vaccination process starts with the ASHA worker. It is the ASHA worker's job to mobilise villagers and convince them to get vaccinated, which is not an easy job.

“There was this eight-month-old child suffering from malnutrition and the mother was not allowing us to vaccinate the child. I pestered her and stood outside her house for almost a month before the child was finally brought in…. I feel the child is alive today only because of me” said ASHA worker Sulochana, adding she does not get a salary but incentives whenever she manages to convince mothers to bring their children for immunisation or when she convinces an expectant mother to opt for institutional delivery.
In the next step, the anganwadi worker makes arrangements for the process and finally the ANM worker administers the vaccine . The vaccines have to be handled with extreme care, as they are extremely sensitive to slight changes in temperature, some being averse to heat and some to cold. There are special temperature-equipped storage and transportation facilities for both types of vaccines.

“Even though wrong administration of vaccine cannot result in death, it has to be administered within four hours of removal from storage or else the results could be deadly,” said District Immunisation Officer Satish Upadhya.

The responsibility, in a way rests on the ANM worker. “I have been trained especially to administer all vaccines and I take care to do a quality check on each and every vaccine, one mistake and the entire village will stop getting their children vaccinated,” said Lahera, who is the ANM for five villages.
Preventable disease is still the main reason for high infant mortality rates, despite efforts to provide vaccines against them, mainly because of unwilling parents due to misconceptions arising out of adverse reactions like fever and swelling immediately after the vaccine is administered.

A vaccine is not administered to the public unless it has been tested for years and it is continuously monitored for safety and effectiveness. However, every human body is different and a rare reaction following vaccines may occur but it is the only way in which to fight against death and morbidity due to disease.

According to the Census, infant mortality rate, considered to be a significant indicator of the overall health status of the country, has been on a steady decline from 129 per 1,000 live births in 1971 to 58 in 2005.

Although the country is far from achieving the legacy of the small pox eradication programme, the sustained campaign by the Government to provide vaccination against these pestilential and epidemic diseases is partially responsible for this decline.

प्राथमिकता में नौनिहालों का स्वास्थ्य

मध्यप्रदेश में टीकाकरण को बढ़ावा देने के लिए 2011 को टीकाकरण वर्षघोषित किया गया है, प्रदेश में टीकाकरण की स्थिति को बता रहे हैं राजु कुमार.
मध्यप्रदेश में शिशु मृत्यु दर एवं बाल मृत्यु दर बहुत ही ज्यादा है. प्रदेश में टीकाकरण की कमी के कारण भी हजारों बच्चे असमय मौत का शिकार हो जाते हैं. ये बच्चे उन बीमारियों का शिकार हो जाते हैं, जिन्हें टीके के माध्यम से रोका जाना संभव है. सूचना एवं जागरूकता के अभाव में प्रदेश के आधे से ज्यादा बच्चे टीकाकरण से वंचित हैं. टीकाकरण के दायरे को बढ़ाने के लिए प्रदेश सरकार ने वर्ष 2011 को टीकाकरण वर्षघोषित किया है. राष्ट्रीय ग्रामीण स्वास्थ्य मिशन के संचालक डॉ. मनोहर अगनानी कहते हैं, ‘‘टीकाकरण के प्रति लोगों को जागरूक करने एवं इसके लिए मूलभूत संसाधनों को उपलब्ध कराने का प्रयास इस साल किया जा रहा है.’’
मध्यप्रदेश में पिछले कुछ सालों में टीकाकरण की स्थिति में सुधार देखने को मिलता है, पर उसे संतोषजनक नहीं माना जा सकता है. 2002-04 में जिला स्तरीय स्वास्थ्य सर्वे-2 में 30.4 फीसदी बच्चों का ही संपूर्ण टीकाकरण हो पाया था. यह 2007-08 में किए गए जिला स्तरीय स्वास्थ्य सर्वे-3 में बढ़कर 36.2 फीसदी तक पहुंच गया. इस बीच लगभग पांच साल में 5.8 फीसदी ही टीकाकरण बढ़ पाया था. जबकि इसके महज एक साल बाद कव्हरेज इवैल्यूएशन सर्वे 2009 में प्रदेश में संपूर्ण टीकाकरण का स्तर 42.9 फीसदी पर पहुंच गया. यद्यपि यह राष्ट्रीय औसत 61 फीसदी से बहुत पीछे है, पर एक से दो साल के बीच स्थितियों में आई तेज सुधार से यह संभावना जगी है कि मध्यप्रदेश को राष्ट्रीय औसत तक पहुंचने में ज्यादा समय नहीं लगने वाला है.
प्रदेश में टीकाकरण की स्थिति में सुधार के लिए यूनीसेफ राज्य सरकार को लंबे समय से मदद कर रहा है. अब टीकाकरण को बढ़ावा देने के लिए यूनीसेफ ने इंदिरा गांधी राष्ट्रीय मुक्त विश्वविद्यालय (इग्नू) एवं मध्यप्रदेश सरकार के साथ मिलकर मीडिया की सहभागिताकार्यक्रम की शुरुआत भी की है. पिछले दिनों यूनीसेफ ने जबलपुर एवं भोपाल में इग्नू एवं स्वास्थ्य विभाग के साथ मिलकर पत्रकारों के लिए कार्यशाला का आयोजन भी किया. मध्यप्रदेश में यूनीसेफ की प्रतिनिधि डॉ. तान्या गोल्डनर कहती हैं, ‘‘टीकाकरण अभियान में मीडिया का सहयोग लेने से गांव के लोगों में टीकाकरण के प्रति जागरूकता बढ़ेगी और कार्यकर्ताओं लिए यह उत्साहवर्द्धन करेगा. टीकाकरण के प्रति जनमानस जागरूकता बहुत ही जरूरी है क्योंकि इससे जीवन की रक्षा होती है, खासकर ऐसे राज्य में जहां शिशु मृत्यु दर देश में सबसे ज्यादा है. हमारा उद्देश्य एक-एक बच्चे तक पहुंचना है, इसके लिए मीडिया एवं पत्रकारों की भूमिका बहुत ही महत्वपूर्ण हैं.’’
यूनीसेफ के संचार अधिकारी अनिल गुलाटी कहते हैं, ‘‘हमारा उद्देश्य मीडिया के माध्यम से लोगों तक टीकाकरण के बारे में सही जानकारी को पहुंचाना है, जिससे कि लोगों के पूर्वाग्रह खत्म हो और वे नियमित टीकाकरण में अपने बच्चों को लेकर आएं. इसके साथ ही जहां अच्छे प्रयास हुए हैं, तो उनकी प्रक्रिया मीडिया में आए, जिससे कि अन्य जगहों के स्वास्थ्य कार्यकर्ता प्रेरणा लेकर टीकाकरण के दायरे को बढ़ा सकें.’’ टीकाकरण से तपेदिक, पोलियो, डिप्थीरिया, काली खांसी, टेटनस, हेपटाइटिस-बी, खसरा एवं जापानी एंसीफैलाइटिस जैसी जानलेवा बीमारियों से बच्चों की रक्षा होती है. शिशु मृत्यु दर एवं बाल मृत्यु दर के आंकड़ों में कमी लाने के लिए इन बीमारियों से बचाव बहुत ही महत्वपूर्ण है.
प्रदेश में अभी भी सिर्फ 12 जिले हैं, जहां 50 फीसदी से ज्यादा संपूर्ण टीकाकरण हो पाया है. 5 जिलों में 40 से 50 फीसदी, 15 जिलों में 30 से 40 फीसदी एवं 18 जिलों में 30 फीसदी से भी कम टीकाकरण हुआ है. बालाघाट जिले में 90 फीसदी से भी ज्यादा टीकाकरण हुआ है. एक आदिवासी बहुल एवं दुर्गम इलाके वाले जिले में टीकाकरण की इस सफलता ने देश के लोगों का ध्यान आकर्षित किया है और उसे मॉडल मानते हुए उसी तरह के प्रयास अन्य जिलों में किए जाने की सिफारिश कर रहे हैं.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Saving the new born: A word of wisdom for men too!

Guna (Madhya Pradesh), Aug 4 (IANS) On a rainy afternoon, a group of six youngsters, including a girl wearing dark red kurta and jeans, was waiting for the showers to stop in Tunk Parolia, one of the poorest and backward villages of Guna district.

As soon as the rain stopped, around 150 people gathered around them, many of them women covering their face with their sarees. A handful of village elders sat on homemade cots.

All eyes were on this group of young people, who took the centre stage on a mud platform and started performing a street play. For the village, which has no pucca houses and very few television sets, which remain switched off for the major part of the day due to absence of electricity, street plays hold more appeal than any Bollywood blockbuster.

The villagers’ eyes are glued to the mud platform, where the group is performing a 45-minute play titled ‘Baat Pate Ki’ ( Words of wisdom).

The play is laced with messages of how important it is to take care of the health of infants and mothers, and as the actors deliver their crisp dialogues in local dialect, with a hilarious script thrown in, the action suddenly stops.

One of the actors turns towards a group of young and middle aged men sitting in the audience and fires the question: ‘When was the last time you asked your wife whether she got time to breastfeed the child, whether your child has been immunized and whether the mother has also been immunized?’
A stunned silence follows. The men seem embarrassed.

The actor adds: ‘Isn’t it true that you are only bothered about your child the day he or she is born and then only when they have to be married?’

The men nod their heads and honestly accept the fact. One can catch the glimpse of faint smiles on the almost covered faces of the women, many with kids on their laps.

At the end of the play, the actors make the men take a pledge that they will support their wives and other women of their families.

And, to begin with, they agree to ensure that their children are breastfed. In the backdrop of the mud platform, named ‘Mukhauta Kala Manch’, are a series of posters highlighting the importance of breastfeeding.

‘We are highlighting the importance of healthcare for children, with major focus on breastfeeding,’ says 23-year-old Shishupal, a resident of the same village. He has registered as a local volunteer with Unicef.

‘I take out two to three hours every day after working in the fields and try to convince the villagers to change their approach on various issues. Breastfeeding is one of the most important issues,’ he said.
He had arranged for this performance in this village, which is around 40 km from Guna city. The village is not easily accessible, especially during monsoons.

‘The villagers cannot afford to go to doctors often and they hardly have any money for medicines. We are just telling them that it would be good if children are breastfed exclusively for first six months and for another one-and-a-half years. After that, they can be given semi-solid food along with mother’s milk. This increases their immunity and chances of survival,’ he added.

Vishnu Jha, who heads the street theatre group, says: ‘We are highlighting the importance of the role men have to play in supporting women and children through this street play.’

Jha and his group will be performing in 21 villages over the next few days to tell villagers the importance of breastfeeding newborns. Mukhauta Kala Manch artistes are a busy lot. It is almost dark and they have to prepare for another show in another remote village in the area. So the youngsters jump on to their rickety Maruti Van and humming songs from the street play, drive off, even as it starts drizzling again.

A quiet revolution saving rural children's lives

By Sandeep Pouranik, IANS :  Jhabua (Madhya Pradesh) : Eleven months ago, Rudra was born as a severely underweight infant in a remote village called Semrod in Jhabua, a predominantly tribal and one of the most backward districts of country with around 47 percent of its population living below poverty line.

Rudra weighed less than two kg at the time of his birth and the family was skeptical about his survival, even as they prayed for his well being. His mother Anita was worried and didn't know what to do. The elders in the family were pressing to give the child some herbs diluted in water or milk, as was the tradition in their village.

But Anita's sister Kala Jaani, a local Anganwari worker, opposed this 'recipe' for the new born, who was already struggling to survive. She convinced Anita to breastfeed the child within an hour of his birth.

Anita decided to follow Kala's instructions on timely initiation of breastfeeding.

Mother's milk was the only feed for Rudra during the first six months of his life. Anita didn't even give him water. Rudra's health and weight started improving singinificantly. On completion of first six months, Anita started giving him some soft-mashed food items as prescribed by Kala, apart from continuing to breastfeed him.

Today, Rudra is one of the healthiest children of his village. He weighs a healthy 8.2 kg and is out of the underweight category at Kala's Anganwari centre register.

But more importantly, he has become an example to the women of the village, convincing them to do away with superstitions and breastfeed their infants.

Kala, in fact, has been on the forefront of this campaign to convince mothers to breastfeed their newborns within an hour of birth, give the child only mother's milk for the first six months and continue breastfeeding for atleast the first two years of the baby's life.

"There is a marked difference in our village now among the children who have been exclusively breastfed and those who haven't," Kala told IANS.

"It was hard to convince people initially to understand the importance of breastfeeding, especially the village elders. But with time and sustained efforts, they have realised the importance, perhaps," she added.

According to Tania Goldner, chief of the Unicef office for Madhya Pradesh, breastfeeding and complementary feeding are simple and proven interventions which can reduce child mortality rates by upto 19 percent.

She adds that Unicef advocates initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and timely introduction of nutritionally adequate, safe and age-appropriate complementary feeding to give a much needed and healthy start to an infant's life.
The result of such simple interventions is visible in Semrod village, where one can see healthy, energetic children playing with each other everyday. And the Angawari worker is in the forefront of the quiet revolution saving their lives.

After an initial training, Kala now has the knowledge and skills to work with mothers and families, and is fully committed to her community and their future -- the children.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mobilising media on routine immunisation

- Anil Gulati

Jabalpur : Somati, is an anganwadi worker working at anganwadi centre (child care centre) loacted at Sarrai village, 30 kilometres 'north off Jabalpur town' in Madhya Pradesh, central part of India.
This Tuesday she along with Auxiliary nurse midwives (ANM) and ASHA (accredited social health activists) were at the centre attending to rush of mothers who had come with their infants and little kids for vaccination.

As soon as one enters the centre, one could see vaccine vials on the molds of ice packs on the ‘only table covered by white sheet’ at the centre and on the other side mothers carrying vaccination cards in their hands and patiently waiting for their turn.

Few mothers had neatly wrapped vaccination cards of their children in a newspaper, while some had it in plastic bag. But all of them had it.

Last Tuesday of every month, this centre functions as immunization centre for the village. And today was the vaccination day; all children whose vaccinations were due are being vaccinated by ANM. Anganwadi worker and ASHA mobilised parents to come to the centre and also attend to mothers and give them the needed iron tablets.

This Tuesday was a special one.

They had visitors. The visitors were media representatives from Jabalpur, and Delhi. Mothers and children were being photographed, interviewed and were giving ‘radio bytes’! It was not only this but more.

Media representatives were informally interacting with community representatives and service providers, trying to understand from them how they work, what are their challenges, do all parents bring their children, if not how do they convince them? What do they do to make sure that vaccine remains potent even when the centre does not have electricity etc.

Some of the villagers knew names of few newspapers, which they had read but some they had not even heard.  But today all of them were in the village and had come from Delhi and Jabalpur to see their work.

This is part of media partnership programme between UNICEF, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and Government of Madhya Pradesh to bring media on to its fold to help increase media discourse on routine immunisation.

‘Mobilising media on this issue will help create a push on generating demand by communities and push within the system for vaccination of children.  This is important as 'immunization saves lives' and important in state which has highest infant mortality rates and a low routine immunisation level’ shares Dr Tania Goldner, Chief, UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh.

"We need to reach out to each and every child," she further adds. 42.9 % children of Madhya Pradesh are full vaccinated in Madhya Pradesh as per coverage evaluation survey done in the year 2009 by UNICEF.

As a part of this media partnership programme an interactive and educative video conference was held simultaneously at Delhi, Bhopal and Jabalpur between media, officials of health department of Government of India and Government of Madhya Pradesh, UNICEF and IGNOU in June this year.

Preceding this media persons were taken to field in Bhopal in June and later in Jabalpur.

"The idea was to see the immunisation in the field, how vaccines are stored, transported, what is cold chain, how vaccine vial monitor helps to identify potency of vaccine in field, share the micro planning process, with them," says Dr Gagan Gupta, Health Specialist with UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh.

He, along with Government of Madhya Pradesh health officials, walked media teams through the entire process of vaccine storage, micro planning process, to its distribution to community health centre, and to end point where children were being vaccinated at the health centre.

"Things are changing, people are getting aware of the immunization, but we need to expand our outreach and overcome barriers like low literacy levels, myths and superstitions. Hence need to reach out with information become more important and it is here where media and this partnership can play an important role," Dr J.L. Mishra, Joint Director Health, Jabalpur Division.

UNICEF highlights importance of breastfeeding in a special meet in Bhopal

Bhopal: UNICEF organised a special meet here in collaboration with the Department of Women and Child Development. The sole purpose of the meet was to highlight the importance of breastfeeding, which according to Dr Tania Goldner, Chief of UNICEF for Madhya Pradesh, is ‘is a simple, proven, and natural intervention that can reduce child mortality rates.’

The first week of August is marked as World Breastfeeding week and members of UNICEF assembled together to gather the media support to spread awareness.

According to Dr Goldner, high coverage with optimal breastfeeding practices, especially exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, could have the single largest impact on child survival.
And this is important for state of Madhya Pradesh which has high infant mortality rates.

Anupam Rajan, Director Women and Child Development, Government of Madhya Pradesh said that state is stepping up efforts for promoting the same.

Monday, May 30, 2011

When girls ask: Why?

India Blooms News Service. Little fingers from Bhopal bring out concern on bias towards girl child, water crisis and corporal punishment. Anil Gulati reports

"I even dance in my dreams, I love dancing, it is my passion, but my parents and brother don’t like my passion, they say I would not be able to dance after Class 10. But why? These is the question of Tammana, a girl presently in tenth grade in a Bhopal school.

Varhsa another girl studying in eighth grade questions "why there is difference between girl and boy child". She argues: "When my brother comes to house from outside my mom asks me to give him water and food. But will that be same when I come from outside? Will my brother be asked to help me with food and water?"

These are voices of girls who are part of school forums set by Child Rights Observatory, an NGO advocating on child rights in Madhya Pradesh in 20 urban schools of Bhopal with support from UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh.

Few of these voices of girl child were reflected in a poster published by Child Rights Observatory titled "What do our girls say?"

Seema, another girl who wrote in the poster, said that we are two sisters but they are clueless why people "ask my parents that if we have brother?"

School forums are child rights groups in 20 schools of Bhopal and nearby, which meet at intervals and discuss about child rights issues. But these are not ‘very formal meetings’. They are play and learn kinds, explains Sonali Jana, an officer with Child Rights Observatory.

"This is start of the process; gradually we encourage them to have their own wall paper and also plan to expand this network at district level. Children contribute in meetings by their writings, drawings and many times speak out in various forums which we organise," Jana says.

Naveen, Khushi, Deepti and Anjana are also members of school forums and by writing poems, stories have brought out the issue of child labour, impact of poverty on children, environment and also reflecting about new things they are learning in school.

Rahul Kushwah, a student of class 7th from Bhopal, contributed a drawing on impact of drinking unsafe water in children magazine titled as Chakmak, brought out by Eklavya, a non-Governmental organization working on education.

His drawing reflected on the harmful effects of drinking contaminated and unsafe water.

Ankur, a child in Class 6 in a Bhopal public school shares his concern on menace of polythene bags in the city and how they are lying around near dustbins and are not cleaned for days together. He expresses concern on cows eating polybags by writing an article in a children magazine run by a media house.

Likewise Pooja from same school talks about growing water crisis in Bhopal and how Bhopal’s water body Upper Lake is losing its water. Krishna, a girl child, questions why teachers and parents beat them instead of explaining where they have gone wrong.

Sometimes it is just scolding but there are times when they are asked to kneel down, stand outside in sun, beaten up with a stick, or are paraded around the lawn of school. But why?

"It is encouraging to see that we are getting more spaces for children to air their views and opinions. This needs to be encouraged and more opportunities should be created for children to speak out on issues that impact their lives, which is their right," says Dr Tania Goldner, Chief, UNICEF, Madhya Pradesh.

Age no bar in India when it comes to marriage!

Rajgarh (Madhya Pradesh), May 16 (IANS) Lakhan, dressed in a cream suit with a flashy headgear on his forehead and a garland of currency notes around his neck, should have been attending his school and preparing for the ensuing summer break at this time of the year.

But donning the traditional attire of a groom, he was at an ancient temple in Rajgarh district of Madhya Pradesh to seek blessings from the local deity not only for himself but also for a teenaged girl sitting beside him.

Amid the unending stream of people, one could easily miss the girl, decked up in a saree, the traditional Indian dress for women. She refused to take off the veil in spite of the heat. There were several other young people like the couple making a beeline to seek the blessings of the deity.

Lakhan reasoned: "She is too shy and, moreover, it is not good to take off the veil in the presence of family elders."

Lakhan and his bride did not carry any proof of age before getting married at this temple and are visibly underage. So are hundreds of others like them.

Their families travelled from another district of Madhya Pradesh to get them married May 6 this year on the occasion of 'Akshya Trithiya', considered to be an auspicious day for solemnising marriages according to Hindu mythology.

Every year, 'Akshay Trithiya' witnesses thousands of child marriages in several parts of the country in blatant violation of the law.

According to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, the minimum age of marriage in India is 21 years for males and 18 years for females.

The State of the World's Children 2009 report by Unicef indicates how widespread the violation of this law is in India.

According to the report, 47 percent of India's women aged 20-24 were married before the age of 18, with 56 percent of them in rural areas.

The report also revealed that 40 percent of the world's child marriages are conducted in India.

According to the National Family Health Survey-III, out of 47.3 percent of women aged 20-24 married by the age of 18, at least 2.6 percent were married before they turned 13, while 22.6 percent were married before they were 16.

Around 44.5 percent were married when they were between 16 and 17.

The survey also highlighted the fact that states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Andra Pradesh continue to witness a high number of child marriages.

Dr. Tania Goldner, chief of the Unicef office in Madhya Pradesh, says: "Child marriage is violation of child rights. Early marriage denies the child of the basic rights to health, nutrition, education, freedom from violence, abuse and exploitation and deprives the child of his or her childhood."

"At least 20 districts of Madhya Pradesh have high incidence of child marriages, particularly Badwani, Rajgarh, Shajapur, Sheopur, Neemuch, Sehore, Mandsaur, Chattarpur and Shivpuri," Nirmala Buch, president of Child Rights Observatory, an NGO working for child rights in the state, told IANS.

Though the state government is making an effort to curb the practice, there is a long way to go, says Buch.

Recently, the Madhya Pradesh government's department of women and child development and the district administration of Bhopal were able to intervene and stop three child marriages in the Ratibad area, but such success stories are rare.

Meanwhile, Lakhan had been able to convince his family elders to leave the newly wed couple alone at the temple for a minute.

The shy girl, who stopped going to school much earlier, lifted her veil and both of them got their first 6X4 inch 'Marriage photograph' clicked for Rs.20. Both of them were smiling in their first picture as a 'happily married' couple.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Need for effective enforcement of child rights: Experts

Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh), April 30 : There are several laws to protect the rights of children in India but what is required is effective enforcement of these rights, prominent members of judiciary said here Saturday. "There are laws for children in India but the challenge is to enforce them. Child is the supreme asset of the nation," Justice Rakesh Saxena of Madhya Pradesh High Court in Jabalpur told the symposium on "Child Rights and Law".

Several district judges, civil society organisations and state government departments are participating in the two-day symposium organised by Human Rights Law Network in partnership with Unicef office for Madhya Pradesh and the state department for women and child development. The aim is to sensitise judiciary and senior government officials and to explore ways and means for strict implementation of these laws, said a UNICEF official.

Justice S.K. Gangele of Gwalior bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court emphasised the need for effective implementation of laws related to child rights at the ground level. "There is a need to engage workers at the grassroots level in the implementation of these laws," he added. Tania Goldner, chief of Unicef field office for Madhya Pradesh, said: "There is an urgent need to bring in higher level of enforcement and strengthen implementation of laws and schemes to let children enjoy their rights."

‘Child marriage is violation of children’s rights’

Civil society consultation on prevention of early marriage was held here on Wednesday at the Academy of Administration.  More than 100 civil society organisations from various districts of the State like Rewa, Hoshangabad, Chhatarpur, Rajgarh, Sehore, Raisen, Badwani, Jhabua, Morena, Tikamgarh, Datia, Guna, Gwalior, Indore, Shivpuri, and Bhind participated in the programme.

Chief of UNICEF in Madhya Pradesh Tania Goldner speaking on the occasion said that Child marriage is violation of children’s rights - whether it happens to girl or boy as it denies the basic rights to health, nutrition, education, freedom from violence, abuse and exploitation and deprives the child of his/her childhood. Though the marriages are coming down but the pace is slow, India contributes to 40 per cent child marriages in world, she added.

Goldner further said that State is taking steps and have law in place, as well as several schemes and programmes focused on Girl child and adolescent girls. But need is to engage communities, address the social norm related to child marriage and make sure that no child loses her or his childhood due to early marriage.

Two girls Pooja and Poonam from Bhopal narrated their stories in the meeting. Poonam resented her own marriage and was able to fight her family and now is studying in school.

Principal Secretary Women and Child Development BR Naidu spoke about the law and how law can help prevent early marriages. He added the need to make use of the law both by communities and civil society organisations. We need to engage community leaders to create awareness in them and make sure that all get married after legal age of marriage, he added.

Nirmala Buch President Child Rights Observatory said that need is to evolve a sustained long term campaign against early marriage in coordination with all stakeholders to support implementation of law in high alert districts. We need to empower decision making in the girl child through focusing on the issue in schools, she added.

Secretary Health & Family Welfare SR Mohanty said that the need is to engage gram Panchayats, Asha workers and field level workers to stop the child marriage at district level. Civil society organisation worked in groups and worked on the key priority areas they would like to focus on coming months and areas where they need support from the State and Police.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Poster on 'voices of girl child'

A unique poster 'Voices of girl child' was released in Bhopal by 30 girls from 6 schools on the occasion of National girl child day. Girls expressed their views and opinions on gender discrimination & feeling about society in this poster. 
A Bhopal based NGO Child Rights Observatory (CRO) has sat up school forums in 6 schools of Bhopal. All girls (Syeda, Pooja, Seema etc.) who were present at the launch was excited and said they want to rise higher but there are barriers in the society, it is the support from parents which encourages one to move forward. Pooja student of class 7th wrote in the poster that why girl’s are only advised to do things in certain manner or not and questioned that why norms are only for girls?
President of Child Rights Observatory Ms. Nirmala Buch says, "This is part of our work to encourage child participation. CRO has set up 6 school forums in Bhopal schools and we plan to expand this to other districts. The girls who have contributed are symbolic of many other who speak out in school forums on issues which impact them and against the discrimination."  Dr. Sheela Bhambal, Secretary, Child Rights Observatory who encouraged the girls and in interaction with them said that girl is no less then boys.  She added CRO publications will encourage children to contribute.
Anil Gulati Communication Specialist, UNICEF office for Madhya Pradesh says, "This is way to lead and is one of the ways to let the voices of children to be heard." Lalit Shastri and Dr. Uday Jain, Executive Members of CRO interacted with girls present at the occasion and encouraged them to express their views and opinions.