January 2018

Healthy meal for a healthy child

As India continues its fight against malnutrition, Tata Trusts drives awareness and access to ensure a healthy nation

Mewati was determined to get her underweight daughter treated. Her awareness has saved her child’s life

Mewati and her husband Ramniwas are daily wage labourers living in Vaishpur village that falls in Atrauliya block of Azamgarh district in Uttar Pradesh (one of the implementation sites for the Trusts’ Eastern UP health initiative). Mewati is a part of the household-based women collectivisation and she attends regular meetings facilitated by their leaders to discuss maternal and child related issues in the village.

During one such meeting, Mewati raised concern about her 18-month-old undernourished daughter. A health worker then visited her house and found the child severely underweight. Mewati was advised to bring her child on the Village Health and Nutrition Day (VHND) which is scheduled for every month on a fixed day. In the child’s anthropometric assessment, it was found that she weighed only 5.4 kg and could be categorised under the red zone (severely underweight) as per the WHO recommended growth chart. The child was then referred to block level health facility at Atrauliya where she received prompt medical attention.

The health worker kept a follow-up of the child. A couple of months later, she was assessed again during VHND, and it was found that she was not gaining weight. Suspecting that the child would progress to a state of severe acute malnutrition (SAM), an ambulance was called and the medical officer advised referral to Azamgarh district hospital at the Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC), which takes special care of severely underweight (SAM) children. The project team counselled Mewati to take her child to NRC and stay there for a couple of weeks. Talking about the difficult phase, Mewati says, “It was a tough decision for me as it meant loss of my daily wages, and also inconvenience to my family.”

While she was convinced, the ambulance service was not helping in taking her child to the district hospital due to some administrative concerns. The Trusts’ project coordinator intervened and did advocacy for the referral; finally Mewati and her daughter were successfully transferred to NRC. They stayed there for 12 days, and the child received high density protein-rich feeds plus medical attention which helped improving her condition to a great extent. Post NRC stay, the health worker continued to visit Mewati’s home and found that her child’s health is gradually progressing.

This story has been taken from the SRTT annual report 2016-17.