Child Malnutrition Prevention and Control (Mumbai)

The programme caters to the health needs of children of rag-pickers and women working on waste dumping grounds located in Deonar. The periphery of the dumping ground is home to the slum areas of Rafiq Nagar, Shivaji Nagar and Baiganwadi .Those living in the nearby slums are exposed to several health problems due to their proximity to the city’s decomposing waste. Rat bites, dog bites, infections to small injuries, viral fever, scabies, rashes, asthma, bronchitis, hay fever and malaria are common ailments in the area. The children pick up objects in the landfill site and play in the water, oblivious of the toxins and chemicals they are interacting with. The programme works towards providing a disease free childhood in order to enjoy a healthy and responsible adulthood. Their aims are to fight for an anemia free world for the children, and to sensitize adolescents to their reproductive rights and sexual health. With the help of dedicated staff and medical student volunteers, the programme has developed systems to assess malnourishment among young children at the beginning and end of the academic year – to understand the changes in the malnourishment status. This has also helped with evolving more appropriate strategies to work with children, teachers and parents. A comprehensive package of child nutrition programme based on WHO Guidelines has been finalized. The interventions are done in three phases i.e. through three intervention camps. It starts with an assessment of nutritional status of the balwadi/pre-school children, treatment of malnutrition, deworming, provision of Vitamin A, Iron and Folic Acid (IFA) and micronutrient supplements, promoting dietary modification for the child and family. It ends with a nutritional status evaluation of each child and is sustained in the form of information provided to teachers and mothers of pre-school/ balwadi children. A teachers’ sensitization programme has been developed to encourage them to support the programme. Health checkups are conducted in the community and in the schools through a mobile van in order to treat common ailments and to screen the children for congenital health conditions. Anemia and malnutrition are evaluated by doctors and nutritional supplements are prescribed. Appropriate referrals are made for further follow ups based on the initial diagnoses. Similarly, Information Education Communication (IEC) materials have been developed and traditional as well as innovative community occasions are being utilized to get the participation of families and teachers in the nutrition programme. The programme also reaches out to many more families in the slums through health checkup camps, awareness programmes on immunization, nutritional needs of young children, balanced meals in tiffin boxes, hygiene and sanitation and prevention of ill health.