A severely malnourished child recovers due to collective effort

By Hrudananda Naik, Block Coordinator

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme is implemented for the overall development of a child, beginning inside its mother’s womb till the time he/she turns 6 years. Nutritional intakes are provided to pregnant mothers, lactating mothers and infants for the physical and mental growth of children. It provides health care facilities, counseling facilities, free immunization and growth monitoring facilities. All these services are recorded to showcase graph of a child’s actual development as per its age. A colorful graph which is divided into three categories namely green zone, yellow zone and orange zone provides visual information about infant’s physical growth. Green zone is a symbol of perfect growth, yellow means there is room for improvement and orange zone is an indicator of bad health of a child, or in other words, a malnourished child. To eradicate malnutrition issues, certain preventive measures are taken by the ICDS department. A special variety of food rich with nutrition is provided to the child for the child’s quick recovery and if it does not work then immediate action is taken by admitting the child for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in a nearby Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC).    

Though these facilities are completely free of cost but people belonging to backward or vulnerable sections don’t understand the actual benefits of these services. Such a case of a SAM child was identified from Odasha village of Pallahara block in Angul district. It was was a complicated case because while ICDS staff tried to provide health care facilities to the child, but the family was careless and did not give importance to the child’s health condition.

Rani Behera, a 16-month-old girl child of Narottam Behera (father) and Nalini Behera (mother) had a birth weight of 2.9 kg, which was good. But gradually her growth was not increasing as per the growth chart. In January 2020, the child was plotted in orange zone in the growth chart by the Anganwadi worker (AWW) of Odash- B Anganwadi Centre (AWC). On that day, ANM, AWW and Lady Supervisor and an APAA member counseled her mother on health care, sanitation and consumption of nutritional food.

During the Village Health and Nutrition Day (VHND) in February, after being motivated by the AWW and APAA member, Rani’s mother took Rani to Khamar and Jamaradihi health care camp and brought nutritious dry food and health tonic. She continued to feed her child as per the instructions of the AWW.

On March 2, 2020, Rani’s case was put forth at Janch and Matru Committee by AWW and APAA member, Nirupama and for immediate action by the Lady Supervisor. The AWW, JC and MC member and APAA member then visited Rani’s house used their effort to convince her parents to admit the severely malnourished child at Khamar NRC.

Rani at NRC with mother

After a long conversation and lots of convincing by the group, Rani’s parents agreed to admit their child. Without wasting any time, everyone took an auto and went to NRC with Rani’s family. Rani and her mother stayed at the NRC for 14 days and after getting health and nutrition benefits along with counseling, Rani’s growth rate gradually increased. As a result, Rani gained 1.7 kg weight within 14 days (5.6 kg during admission in NRC on March 2 and 7.3 at discharge from NRC on March 15)        

“Now, Rani is enjoying her childhood, she likes to play with her friends and she has a systematic eating habit. We are really happy for her” said her mother Nalini.