What are the areas that require special attention in child and maternal health?
Though the government has launched many schemes targeting maternal, infant and child heath, India continues to struggle with the global burden of infant, child and maternal deaths.
Globally, more than one third of child deaths are attributed to under-nutrition. It is estimated that more than one third of the world’s malnourished children live in India and 62 million children under five are stunted, a manifestation of chronic malnutrition (NFHS-4). The other reasons are inadequate neonatal care, insufficient breastfeeding, under-nutrition, low immunity, diarrheal, respiratory infections and high incidence of communicable diseases.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 45,000 women died from preventable pregnancy-related complications in India in 2015. India’s goal is to lower maternal mortality to less than 100 per 100,000 live births but that is still a far-fetched dream despite its programmatic efforts and rapid economic progress over the past two decades. Severe shortages of qualified and trained midwives in rural areas is one of the primary reasons.
How does ChildFund India bring about changes in the lives of deprived?
ChildFund strives to ensure that deprived, excluded, and vulnerable children have the capacity to improve their lives and become young adults, parents, and leaders who inspire lasting and positive change in their communities. Its unique programs provide comprehensive support to children from their conception until they reach 24 years of age by integrating health, nutrition, sanitation, gender equality, disability, education, skill training, livelihoods, child protection and humanitarian relief work.
The health based programs ensure that underserved children have access to quality health and adequate nutrition. We work directly with children to develop themselves as an agency. A lot of programming is done around developing the positive self-image in children along with confidence, so they are also able to actively practice their right to participation and have platforms for expressing themselves and making sure that their voice is heard.
What steps can be taken to enable communities to improve child health?
In the early years of life, parents and intimate family members are the best providers of nurturing care, which is why family-centered care is important. Engagement between parents and their young child, expressed before speech, develops through cuddling, eye contact, smiles, vocalizations and gestures; it is the engine that propels brain development.
Grassroots level workers and health providers can and are supporting families to provide adequate home care for children’s healthy growth and development but still more efforts are required to be made to empower the community members. PRI (Panchayati Raj Institution) has a mandate to improve child health and working with these leaders helps in creating enabling environment for families and communities to sustain positive child health seeking behavior.
What are the main crisis faced by young adults?
Many of the challenges our young adults face today is also brought about by an overload of information, seeming insignificant in front of the vastness of the world before them. They are suffering from lack of focus, direction, motivation, and facilities. Adolescence and young adulthood is an impressionable age, lack of proper guidance and access to appropriate education system, information, facilities and opportunities for their holistic development, majorly contributes towards them going astray. The young adults are more vulnerable and get trapped in the habit of substance abuse, unsafe sexual behavior, etc.
What can be done on individual basis for the improvement of society?
Each of us needs to take a step forward, one needs to be the exemplar of the change s/he wants to bring forth. We need to start doing our bit first and then start mentoring others. For better impact and multiplier effect, we need to make collective efforts, as we say “Little drops of water make the mighty ocean” – we all need to come together and work towards a better future. Here are some of the ways individuals can support –
- Support children from marginalized communities through Individual Giving Initiative
- Fund a Project or in-kind support
- Respond to emergencies
- Volunteer and share expertise
Does ChildFund India provide any assistance for jobs?
We strive to make youth work ready through technical and vocational training, career guidance, build their life skills involving personal competencies, problem-solving and managing conflicts, effective habits, entrepreneurship, and related skills for long term success in the workplace. The goal of this program is to support youth to achieve improved economic, physical and social well-being, and become catalysts for positive change in their families, community, and country.
Our comprehensive skill development program not just focuses on jobs but on providing end to end support to the youth right from guiding them to choose the right vocational skill to pursue, handholding them throughout their journey, identifying suitable job opportunities and helping with placement support, preparing them for interviews, providing training on soft skill, post placement –follow-up support and so on. We also provide individual counselling, support for higher education, pursuing sports (if they have any expertise), coaching classes for the adults who will be appearing for board exams.
What more do you think the government can do in order to bring sustainable environment for coming generations?
Good government can provide vehicles for informed decision-making and invest in and maintain the checks and balances of a democratic system. There are laws and legislations to protect children and help them practice their rights but there are some gaps in them and the biggest gap is in the implementation of policies and legislations. Government alone cannot bring about the change we wish to see. For multiplier effect, upscaling of their efforts and smooth functioning of its systems, government should make collective efforts by forming public private partnerships, work with the community towards making its citizens responsible.
The government needs to ensure that the government schools are adequately funded and are operating well as these are the only means to provide sustainable opportunities for education to children. Efforts on enhancing quality of training must start at Higher Secondary level, without dissuading youth from pursuing higher education and opting for quick money jobs, but build awareness and focus on career guidance. Life skills and work readiness should be integrated into course curriculum in the higher secondary level.