By Gurinder Gulati
Gujarat: 15 May 2009: UNICEF India Country Representative, Ms Karin Hulshof during her maiden visit to Gujarat from May 12-14 visited a remote tribal village in Valsad district and held meetings with important government partners in the State capital.
Ms Hulshof visited Varoli Talat, 68 kilometers from Valsad district headquarters.
Being the second Wednesday of the month and designated as Mamta day for the village, large number of mothers and children had gathered at the Anganwadi centre to receive maternal and child health services.
A team of health and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) functionaries administered vaccines to small babies and the Anganwadi worker, weighed the children and plotted their weight on the community growth monitoring chart.
The ICDS supervisor informed the mothers about the nutritional status of their children and advised them on proper feeding practices to keep the children in green (healthy) zone. Pregnant women were given antenatal check up by the health worker in separate rooms.
Ms Hulshof keenly observed the services rendered by the health and Anganwadi workers and appreciated the work done by them for the survival and development of children.
She also reviewed the situation with the workers and found that out of the 40 children weighed during the day, only five to six children made it to the normal category, while the rest were moderately malnourished.
Ms Hulshof, while stressing the importance of behaviour change at the family level, pointed to the fact that exclusive breast feeding up to six months and complementary feeding thereafter was the only solution ensuring healthy and well nourished children.
Ms Hulshof also went around Varoli Talat village along with the lady village Sarpanch and visited the Primary School, Dairy Cooperative Society, Public Distribution Shop (PDS) and the Panchayat office to familiarise herself with the functioning of these institutions and how they are contributing to development of the village.
She also visited few households to acquaint with living conditions of people and to ascertain the situation of women and children in this part of country.
Ms Hulshof voiced her appreciation on the clean environment, availability of water, use of toilets and bio-gas plants in the households. During her visit, she also met the district officials and NGO partners and reviewed UNICEF cooperation with them.
After her visit to Valsad, Ms Hulshof held meetings with Honorable Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Health Minister, Chief Secretary and other senior Government officials in the State capital.
During her discussions, she appreciated the progressive policies of the State Government and assured UNICEF’s continuing support to the Government in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
In her meetings with the officials, she also highlighted the importance of behaviour change at family to ensure child survival and development.
Ms Hulshof, in her address to the Gandhinagar staff, expressed satisfaction on the upstream advocacy and policy influencing work being done by the Gujarat office.
She said, “While last year was dedicated to planning, the year 2009 shall be the year of implementation and we must ensure coverage of un-reached populations.”