Small efforts brings big change
It has been 5 years Rajesh Adivasi of Machakhurd village in Pohari block of Shivpuri district got married to Rajgilasi. Rajesh, a labourer by profession lies in the category of Below Poverty Line (BPL). He barely gets 15 kg grain in a month through his BPL card.
Rajgilasi gave birth to her first child, a boy, Suraj after an year of their wedding. Soon she gave birth to another child, this time a girl- Rajnandni. Such frequent pregnancies of women deprive their children from getting sufficient breast milk and even proper care. This results in poor development of children and also invites several illnesses. Situation is even worse if it is a girl child. Frequent pregnancies deprive a woman from getting sufficient time to recover. This is a cycle of malnutrition which begins when a woman conceives and ends only after birth.
Rajnandni became a victim of this cycle. She barely weighed 2.4 kgs and was malnourished since birth. She was not even fed with breast milk, the most important thing for a newborn. This resulted in making her condition worse. Lack of care and attention due to poor gap between 2 deliveries led to malnutrition in Ramgilasi’s first child Suraj as well. In April 2018 it was found that Suraj is also moderately malnourished.
At the time when these 2 children were struggling for their survival, Ramgilasi conceived again. Health check up of 11 pregnant women of the village revealed there were 2 anemic among them and Ramgilasi was one of them. Though, she weighed 51 kgs but her haemoglobin was only 8 grams. Situation was extremely concerning as her 2 children fell prey to malnutrition, she herself was weak and future of the child in her womb was also uncertain. It was a matrix in which finding a way was extremely tough. To break this cycle it was important to work on every front.
Rajnandini’s condition was critical and needed immediate intervention. She weighed barely 6.9 kgs. At first her parents denied to admit her in the Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC). Their major concern was staying in NRC for 14 days will lead to loss of wages. Also who will take care of other child at home. After going through a lot of counseling, the family finally agreed to admit Rajnandini in NRC on August 7, 2018. Her condition improved after going through treatment for 14 days. The improvement was visible as she jumped to moderately malnourished category from severely malnourished child. Her parents were extremely relieved as Rajnandini was out of danger now.
Now it was Ramgilasi and her upcoming child’s turn to get a proper intervention. The health workers made it mandatory to meet Ramgilasi whenever they used to visit her village and provide her proper consultation. Improved condition of her daughter had a positive effect on Ramgilasi as she had started trusting workers and the advice provided by them. She was way more conscious about her health than never before. Through multiple sessions of counseling she was made to understand importance of nutritious food and its impact on her upcoming child. She started taking nutrition supplement provided by Anganwadi centres. She had realized her food habits will have direct impact on the growth of her child. She even got all vaccines administered on time.
Now it was turn to make efforts to ensure normal and safe delivery. One needs to pay proper attention at every level to ensure safe motherhood. All the previous deliveries of Ramgilasi were conducted at her home itself so now It was important to convince the family for institutional delivery. As their severely malnourished daughter had recovered well at NRC, they started trusting government health institution. They followed the advice of health workers and gave birth to their 3rd child at Community Health Centre (CHC) of Pohari on November 28, 2018.
Efforts of health workers brought good results. The family was blessed with a healthy boy weighing 3.3 kgs. Responsibilities doesnot end here, it was time to ensure that the newborn gets breast milk of mother immediately after birth. On the other hand Rajnandini was recovering well and weighs 8.4 kgs now. She is moderately malnourished but is leading towards a healthy life. Suraj has also shown great improvement and is no more malnourished. His weight is 13 kgs now.
But challenges have not ended yet. Now It was time to convince the couple to opt family planning options. As newborn and under-5 deaths are high among Saharia tribe, it results into multiple deliveries. Convincing rural population to opt family planning options for birth control is still a major challenge. Despite multiple efforts done by the health workers Ramgilasi and her husband Rajesh denied for family planning surgery.
Pix: Children’s group activity photo