Prop Up The Failing Health Of Women

Prop Up The Failing Health Of Women
Sarika Tripathi, MPH

Despite launching new maternal health policies regularly, the Uttar Pradesh government has failed to combat malnutrition in its female population. In November 2008, a novel scheme called ‘Saloni Swasth Kishori Yojna’ was launched with great fanfare. It aimed to break the cycle of malnutrition among women, but seems to have failed just within six months of its inception.

Under this scheme a health check- up of adolescent girls, in eight schools of each block, was to be conducted once every six months. Besides, it had the provision of weekly Iron Folic Acid supplementation and half yearly distribution of de worming tablets. But, due to an inefficient health system and lack of will in its implementation, even half of the set targets in the first phase could not be met. This has been revealed in the report of the state Health Department. The main reasons for this could be the lack of any formal training in the personnel involved with the scheme, and also the absence of proper monitoring. The second phase of the scheme was to be launched in April/ May of this year, but due to some reasons it has not begun as yet.

The scheme is of special importance for a state like Uttar Pradesh, where maternal mortality rates and anemia prevalence are very high. The health of adolescent girls is of prime importance, as malnourishment in this age becomes one of the major causes of complicated pregnancies in later years. This leads to a vicious cycle in which the health of women suffers from generation to generation. It is this target group which, with proper intervention, can break the cycle of malnutrition and anemia among women.

It has been seen that women having low haemoglobin levels are at a high risk of losing their life at the time of child birth. Any mild bleeding during delivery can endanger the mother’s life. Even if she survives, successive pregnancies deteriorate her condition still more. Anemic women often give birth to malnourished babies, putting a question mark on child survival. Low birth weight babies, premature deliveries, intra uterine deaths are some of the consequences of anemia in pregnant women. Even if the child comes to this world despite these adversities, it is likely to suffer from various physical and mental disabilities, the degree of which may vary from mild to severe. Later on this child is likely to transfer the heritage of ill health to her progeny. So, if preventive and corrective steps are taken at the early stage of development, this vicious cycle of malnutrition can be broken, as only a healthy mother can give birth to a healthy baby, thus contributing to a healthy society.

Rigorous efforts, on the part of the government, are required to learn a lesson from the failure of the first phase of its laudable scheme. Instead of launching another scheme with the same objective, it would be better to re-launch the same scheme but this time with double enthusiasm, better planning and effective implementation.

Sarika Tripathi, MPH

The author is a Correspondent of Citizen News Service (CNS), who did her post-graduation in Public Health Management from Lucknow University in India. She can be contacted at sarikasarika_49@rediffmail.com

No comments:

Post a Comment