Improving Child Health in India

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SEATTLE, Washington — Child health is improving dramatically around the world. Cases of measles and tetanus have reduced by 80 percent. The Center for Disease Control has aided more than 80 countries in eliminating rubella by increasing access to vaccines. The death rate of children under five has plummeted. India is one of the countries making great strides in the health of their children. In recent years, India has been making advancements in the finances, communication and technology to improve the overall health of its children. Here are some new advancements in improving child health in India.

Microloans for Women

One advancement has been the introduction of microloans to disadvantaged mothers. This program, known as Rojiroti (daily bread), was created by a group of professors from the University of Nottingham’s School of Medicine. Rojiroti gave small loans to women in village communities in Northern India for necessary expenses and recorded the results. Through self-help groups, these women learned to better manage their money. By lowering the stress that comes from poverty through Rojiroti, the children of these women saw health improvements.

Before Rojiroti, between 15 and 20 percent of the children in these village communities were severely malnourished, weighing almost two weight classes below the average for their height. These children were much more likely to suffer disease and premature death than children that received consistent and nutritious meals. By the end of this program, almost all of the children in the communities that participated in Rojiroti were a healthier weight. The researchers behind the program have encouraged the Indian government to scale up the number of loans given to improve child health in India even further.

The Childline Hotline

The Childline Hotline is another step in the right direction for child health in India. The Childline Hotline is a toll-free number that any child in crisis can call 24 hours a day to be put in touch with a member of the Childline team. This team member will put the child in contact with police, the hospital, juvenile justice or a multitude of other services to ensure that the child receives the care they need.

The hotline will also connect children with the Don Bosco Ashalayam Center, a  facility that offers educational activities, emotional support, meals and even a place for a homeless child to live and study until they find a suitable home. This program has provided shelter, food, education and rehabilitation to hundreds of disadvantaged youths. Its goal is to continue the program until every child in India has stable living conditions. Since the program started in 1999, it has taken more than 90 million calls.

Smartphone Technology

Healthcare workers are also using smartphone technology to improve child health in India. Currently, the child mortality rate in India is about 39 deaths per 1,000 live childbirths. India had the highest mortality rate for children under five in 2015. The World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank and many other organizations poured $100 million into a project that arms doctors in India and nine other countries with smartphones and tablets. With this new smartphone tech, health workers will be able to view risk maps and previous health records with ease in order to focus on at-risk areas and families. They can use data like climate patterns or social media trends to prepare for disease outbreaks before they happen.

Altogether, improving child health in India has become a priority thanks to these advancements and programs. With the Rojiroti program, disadvantaged women will be able to feed their children better balanced, nutritious meals. The Childline Hotline helps children in crisis with any problem they have, providing a barrier between them and the cruelty of India’s streets. Access to smartphone tech gives health workers an edge on disease outbreaks. As India continues to reduce its malnutrition and infant mortality rate, there may be a day where programs like the Childline Hotline and Rojiroti are unnecessary.

Charles Nettles
Photo: Flickr

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