By Gurinder Gulati
“It’s a special day today. It’s “Mamta Ujwani Divas”, said Jignishaben Patel one of the several mothers waiting for their turn to have their children weighed and immunized at Chichwada anganwadi (child care centre) of Valsad district in Gujarat. The anganwadi centre was all decked up for the Mamta Divas. A large size Community Growth Chart and Salter Weighing Scale, supplied by UNICEF had been put up in the verandah of the anganwadi. A full team of Health and ICDS workers, led by Sandeep Naik, Medical Officer Incharge of the Primary Health Centre, provided services to the mothers and children.
“Sweety”, 4 month old daughter of Jignishaben was weighed by Jainaben, the Anganwadi Worker. She weighed 5.5 Kgs. Dr Sandeep Naik, sitting next to the Anganwadi Worker, examined the child and congratulated Jignishaben that her child was growing very well. He also advised her to continue exclusive breast feeding and initiate semi solid food after six months. After the child had been examined by the doctor, Hansaben, the Female Health Worker, administered the third and final dose of DPT and OPV to Sweety and made the entries on the “Mamta Card”. She also told Jignishaben to remember that she should come back for Measles vaccine when the child would be nine months. “Only then, the child will be considered fully immunized”, said Hansaben. Like Jignishaben, there were several other mothers who had their children weighed and informed about the nutritional status of their child. Advice was also given to them about appropriate feeding practices and hygiene behaviour.
Antenatal check up of the pregnant women was also conducted by the Medical Officer and IFA tablets distributed by the Female Health Worker on the Mamta Divas. “As advised by the Doctor, I have already received two shots of TT and 100 IFA tablets and am consuming them regularly. This is for the protection of myself and my child”, said Meenalben. When asked, where she will have her delivery conducted, she immediately replied, “The doctor had already told me to go to the Civil Hospital and I will go by his advice”.
Government of Gujarat, with the help of UNICEF, has recently launched the “Mamta Divas” strategy all over the state. The main objective of this strategy is to reduce infant mortality as well as malnutrition among children through effective delivery of Health & Nutrition services on the same day and under the same roof. On the Mamta Divas, a mother and child friendly environment is created at the anganwadi, exhibition panels on maternal and child health are displayed, and film shows like Meena and Manthan are organized to educate the community about new born caring practices, health and hygiene.
Helping the Health and Nutrition team of the Government were the four village volunteers trained by UNICEF in each village of Valsad district. The previous evening, accompanied by the Anganwadi Worker, they contacted all the pregnant and lactating mothers in the village and informed about the “Mamta Divas” and the opportunity to avail all health related services on the same day at the same place.
It is heartening to note that the “Mamta Divas” strategy is generating a lot of interest and enthusiasm among the frontline workers as well as all sections of the society and will help immensely in reducing malnutrition levels among children.