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'Commitment to reduce IMR and MMR re-emphasized again – Save the Children'

2/14/2013
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Report by India Education bureau, Patna: ‘Convergence between various key government departments like Health & Family Welfare, Women & Child Development as well as Panchayati Raj is essential at all levels, more particularly at lower level of service delivery mechanism to reduce malnutrition, infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR). Front line health workers must work together with more coordination, skill and attitude for this’ said Praveen Kishor, Director, ICDS, Government of Bihar today. 

He was addressing a state level consultation on ‘role of front line health workers in improving maternal, new born child health and nutrition services and need for capacity building’ here organized by Save the Children. ‘To curb malnutrition, Government of Bihar is also planning for establishing more 40,000 Anganwadi Centres in addition to existing 91,000 such centres in the state. Government is committed to run the centres 300 days a year keeping in view the needs at the community level following the directive by the hon’ble Supreme Court of India’ he added.

Save the Children and its local partners AGRAGAMI India and CHARM are implementing a project called ‘Strengthening Maternal, Newborn, Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) services in India’ in Gaya and Sitamarhi districts of Bihar towards contributing and strengthening evidence-based enhance the coverage and quality of evidence-based Maternal and New Born Child Health & Nutrition interventions, services and practices in project areas in the state.

The workshop was dedicated to share the findings of three consecutive studies conducted by Save the Children with external agencies (PHRN, FRDS and Ms. Devika Biswas, Freelancer)  on ‘Skills and training needs of front line health workers against expected role’, ‘Training Needs Assessment for Health and ICDS workers at different levels’ and ‘Facility Assessment in existing Health and ICDS infrastructures’. The studies were conducted in Mohanpur block of Gaya and Riga block of Sitamarhi districts recently. It revealed the scanty picture of awareness level at communities and lack of knowledge, role clarity and attitude among front line health workers (ASHA, ANM, AWW), which led to poor status of maternal and new born health & nutrition at grass root level.

Representatives from various government institutions under Health & Family Welfare and Women & Child Development Departments along with leading NGOs and INGOs, bi-lateral agencies working on health and nutrition issues discussed on the findings and recommended for more accountability, convergence, capacity building and missionary mode of service delivery with proper infrastructure and facilities in place.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Yamin Majumdar, UNICEF State Representative in Bihar said ‘though in recent years Bihar has reduced the IMR significantly to 44 per 1000 live birth, the under 5 mortality rate is still higher at 67 and malnutrition is one of the major cause behind this unfortunate scenario. A long term and joint strategic engagement is required involving government, NGOs, INGOs, bi-lateral agencies and relevant other institutions to address the situation’. He expressed his concern for quality training as well as quality handholding support to front line health workers in this connection. 

Among others, Dr. R. D. Raman, Director, Bihar State Institute for Health & Family Welfare, Dr. N. K. Mishra from Bihar State Health Society, Seema Singh from Panchayati Raj Department, Manoj Kumar, Deputy Director, PRANJAL, Dr. S. P. Srivastava, noted paediatrician, Rafay Khan, Bihar State Program Manager and Dr. Sudip, National Manager, Health for Save the Children shared their views on the issue. Brajeswar Prasad Mishra, Program Coordinator, Health for Save the Children has anchored the programme.
 
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