DONATE NOW

Nutrition

Nutritional status of people determines the quality of life and is linked with the health status. Through Nutrition Centres, along with spreading awareness, RDT provides supplementary nutritional meals for children, women, and the most vulnerable.

Good nutrition is the building block for a healthy life, Ananthapuram’s rural poor were not only impoverished when it came to three complete meals a day, they were also poorly informed about balanced nutrition, so the little they did partake still lead to deficiencies and poor health.

Droughts further intensified their poverty and adversely affected the health status of deprived and marginalized sections, especially certain risk groups such as mothers, small children, people with disability, old age people, destitute women, orphans and persons suffering from chronic diseases. The economy of these vulnerable families having low socio-economic status is fragile and there would be no means for any special diet. Thus, in 2000, RDT initiated the Nutrition Program to cover the people with the following criteria

“Now women have realised that their health is the basis of their family's health, and they make sure to eat well at home, and visit the Anganwadi for supplements regularly."
  • Children in the age group of 0-4 years
  • Antenatal & Postnatal Mothers
  • Aged persons not having any family support
  • Children or adults suffering from chronic health problems such as tuberculosis

In the early years boiled eggs were given on every alternate day followed by one banana once a week, this was held to be ideal supplementary food for kids and eggs are easy to chew and digest. RDT soon felt the need to further fortify nutrition by replacing bananas as it became difficult to serve them fresh. Moreover, the availability of good quality bananas in all seasons was found difficult. In the past, local grains like, Ragi – red millet – was preferred and had regularly by rural people, but today a majority of people in rural areas eat subsidized rice.

Hence, it was decided to continue distributing boiled eggs on every alternate day i.e. 15 eggs a month, in addition to a nutritious beverage made of Ragi powder mixed with Jaggery which contains iron, minerals & other nutrients would be served daily. This new nutrition package has been supplied by RDT for the past 12 years and has been a life-saving addition to the diets of many a poor home.

Community Health Workers are given the responsibility of the Nutrition Program. The process of scanning communities to decide whether to set up a Nutrition Centre is carried out by them. They conduct periodic surveys to identify eligible persons, in villages where there are no CHWs, either the local CDC or self-help group of women conducts the survey and short-lists the eligible villagers and children. The process of conducting survey and screening for eligibility for the Nutrition Program is an ongoing activity since there would be a continuing addition of newly pregnant mothers and deletion of postnatal mothers whose children had completed 4 years of age.

It is the responsibility of the coordinating CHW, CDC or SHG to process the Ragi, grind it and keep the processed powder as well as Jaggery in air-tight containers under hygienic conditions and prepare the beverage using proportionate quantities of Jaggery & Ragi powder. They safely and hygienically store the procured eggs and boil them when needed to be dispensed. All through the process, using clean utensils and storage techniques is also observed. They take attendance of members before distribution of nutrition and find out the reasons for any absentees. It is up to the Nutrition Programme coordinator to also ensure that the steel glasses or cups brought by mothers to collect their health drink are kept clean before distribution. It is also ensured distribution is conducted properly without any bias or prejudice. Nutrition portions are distributed to sick & aged persons at their residences if and when needed. The Nutrition Programme also record the weights of children & mothers once a month in sample locations on specific dates.

The surroundings of community centres both inside & outside are always kept clean. The attendance of all mothers along with children covered under nutrition program during health check-ups and awareness workshops is ensured through advance intimation by the programme coordinators. They also hold team debriefings to track progress and review problems, facilitated by sector team leaders & concerned Health Organizers at area headquarters.

Additionally, Mothers’ Committees are also formed to monitor Nutrition Centres. 3-4 antenatal & postnatal mothers are aligned to a nutrition centre at village level. Cluster health organizers act as the advisors of mothers’ committees. They are trained about nutrition and its importance in child growth. MMR and IMR rates in Ananthapuram have reduced significantly owing to the heightened awareness of the benefits of nutritious food.

The committees work on a rotating basis and members get shuffled every 6 months for a total tenure of 4 years (by which time their children will have grown) and new mothers are inducted. They also function to inform CHWs about children’s illnesses, and also monitor CHWs for any possible malpractices or supply mismanagement.

HIGHLIGHTS
 
STAFF SPEAK
 

“From my early years until today, there has been a drastic reduction in the sheer numbers of extreme cases of nutritional problems. Babies and mothers were under-nourished, even mal-nourished – but in the villages where nutrition centres have been functional for a few years, drastic cases have been reduced significantly”

Nagamma
Konapuram, Kanaganapalli

SUCCESS STORY
 

was started in the village in 2003.  From then onward to 2005, boiled eggs and bananas were supplied. In 2005 Ragi malt replaced bananas. At present there are 62 beneficiaries in the program.  Of them, 43 are children, 9 are postnatal mothers, 4 are chronically ill patients, and the remaining 6 are old aged people.

Before this programme, malnutrition, sickness and anaemia were rampant in the village. Today, headcounts under all categories have reduced substantially. One such case study is that of Priyanka: She was born in 2001 to a poor couple in the village. A bright toddler, Priyanka however was always lethargic and unable to play or move around energetically. She was with her mother when she attended a nutrition workshop conducted by an RDT Health Organizer in the village where she was examined with the other attendees, and her haemoglobin level was found to be grossly low at 6.

She was referred to RDT Hospital, Bathalapalli, where her doctors prescribed iron capsules and syrup. Once back home her Health organizer used to carry out regular follow up visits and instruct her mother about the use of the iron capsules and also about the child’s and overall family’s diet. Priyanka’s mother followed the doctors’ and HO’s advice to the letter, and after taking regular medicine and nutrition food for six months, Priyanka’s HB level increased to 10.

 “After the help my mother received, she taught me the importance of good nutrition. I want to help others in the same way someday.”

PARADIGM SHIFT
 

Good nutrition has ensured that the survival rate of younger ones remain higher. This surety has enabled the families to limit their offspring as few as possible.

RELATED TOPICS