Rural child health initiative reaches out to UP's poor

Photo credit: Kulsum Mustafa
Wednesday and Saturdays are Routine Immunization days in Uttar Pradesh. From morning one witness rural women with infants in arms making a beeline for primary health centres. But June and December are more special months for little children in India's most populous state with very poor development indicators. It is in these two months when health call beacons all the under five in remotest corners of the state. Read more

"Bal Swasthya Poshan Mah" (BSPM) is a bi-annual government health programme that addresses the grave issue of malnutrition from which a major number of the state children suffer. During BSPM children are given the vital vitamin A dose the deficiency of which can result in preventable blindness.  The children also get the routine immunization (RI). During BSPM counseling of young mothers, pregnant and lactating women is also done regarding the right nutrition for their children which includes breastfeeding, complimentary feeding, supplementary feeding, usage of iodine salt, and proper sanitation.

While this health initiative is for all the 72 districts of Uttar Pradesh, special focus is being given on 15 districts which have been identified as 'high risk (HR).'

Farrukhabad, situated some 250 km from the state capital Lucknow is one such HR districts. The UP government has taken the help of UNICEF for this.

"The high risk district generally have a high density of Muslims and lower castes, the idea is to reach out to them and ensure that they are not left out in this health campaign," explained UNICEF medical representative Dr Deepak Sinha in the district.

"Kamaalganj, one of the six blocks in Farukkabad district has 50 per cent Muslim population. Thus efforts have been made to reach out to them through the leading Muslim persons in the area," he explained. Dr Tausif Baig, district coordinator, Farukkahabad, Social Mobilizing network, UNICEF said that they are going from door-to-door with a team to explain to the population the advantages of availing of the facilities during the BSPM.

He informed that their initiative of getting the publicity material printed in Urdu has got a lot of good response.

The team is also ensuring that reach out to the minority community during the weekly Friday congregations.

One can only hope that concentrated and sustained efforts will bear fruit and the community comes forward to avail of the health facilities being offered free of cost to them like to people of other community.

Kulsum Mustafa
(The author is a senior journalist and also the Secretary of Media Nest

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