Maternal and child health indices are the most sensitive markers of the robustness of health delivery as a whole : Ghulam Nabi Azad
INVC, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu,
India’s under five mortality rate has declined much faster than the global average. There is a quantum jump in the annual rate of decline in the recent past. Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad said this at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu today. Addressing the inaugural programme of “India’s Call to Action for Child Survival and Development Summit” Shri Azad said he had committed in Washington - Call to Action in June 2012 where India was co-convener along with the United States of America and Ethiopia that India shall remain in the forefront of the war against child deaths and ensure no child dies of a cause that can be prevented. This National Call to Action is a significant step towards translating the commitment into action. Several innovations spearheaded under the National Rural Health Mission have started to show good results. This has encouraged expanding horizons and reaching children in all possible spaces - at birth, in hospitals, in anganwadis, in schools and in communities, not only to improve child survival outcomes but also ensure quality of life of children through innovative service delivery mechanisms. Shri Azad said UPA Chairperson Smt. Sonia Gandhi launched a new national health initiative “Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram” in Palghar, a Tribal Block in Thane district of Maharashtra yesterday. The new initiative puts in place universal health screening of children and early intervention services. Over 270 million children from birth to 18 years of age for early identification of 4 Ds, i.e. defects at birth, diseases, deficiencies and developmental delays including disabilities. Children who are diagnosed with any of the specified illnesses would be managed and treated free of cost under the National Rural Health Mission.This initiative would reach to 20 million babies born at public health facilities or home, 80 million pre-school children up to 6 years of age and 170 million children up to 18 years of age enrolled in government and government aided schools from class 1 to class 12. As child mortality is impacted by social determinants, ministries of Women & Child Development and Drinking Water & Sanitation have taken initiatives for restructuring ICDS in a mission mode bringing sharp focus on nutrition in 200 high burden districts and improve sanitation under Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan.He said maternal and child health indices are the most sensitive markers of the robustness of health delivery as a whole. Any well-functioning health system cannot and should not allow deaths of mothers and children from causes which are easily preventable. Our investments in health system strengthening have witnessed a phenomenal increase since 2005 when the National Rural Health Mission was launched. The stepped up investments have led to impressive achievements. A strong work force of 8.80 lakh ASHAs acting as an interface between the community and the health system has been the Mission`s singular contribution. Large scale augmentation of Human resources by adding more than 1.5 lakh ANMs, staff nurses, doctors, specialists and paramedics under NRHM has boosted the capacity of the public health system to cater to the increasing demand for health services. Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram has marked a paradigm shift by guaranteeing free entitlements to both pregnant women and sick newborns. More than 20000 million rupees has been given to states in the current financial year for ensuring implementation of this important initiative. There has been a phenomenal improvement in the availability of ambulances after the roll out of this scheme and the number has crossed 16000 now. There is also improvement in availability of free drugs in public health system. Shri Azad said institutional deliveries have risen from 47 percent to over 73 percent. Steps are being taken now for timely detection of high risk pregnancies, adequate provision of emergency obstetric care, observance of technical protocols by service providers and bringing down hospital acquired infections must receive high priority. Similarly effectiveness of ASHAs to reach the most vulnerable and marginalized sections of population and their constant mentoring to deliver as per expectations would be critical. States would now be able to receive additional funding for sector wide reforms that they may introduce such as free medicines, creation of a public health cadre, inter-sectoral convergence initiatives etc. He hoped that State Health Ministers would provide personal leadership to several new initiatives and spur innovation. “If we can win the battle against polio, we can surely win the war against child mortality. Let us do it sooner than later!” Shri Azad said. It may be mentioned that the Call to Action will be a shared platform for concerned ministries and inter-ministerial dialogue for the centre and states, Global and Indian expertise, good will ambassadors, private sector, civil society, media and faith-based organizations to share experiences and challenges; celebrate successes in maternal, newborn and child survival and development programmes; and, pledge to recommit themselves to address challenges in implementation. At the end of the Summit, ministers from central and state governments, leaders from the private sector, civil society, media and multilateral organizations, academia and funding agencies will arrive at a set of agreed actions, commitments, promote accountability and engage high burden states to determine follow up mechanism to achieve India’s Goals for child survival and development.