Malnutrition significantly affects the urban poor. Inadequate nutrition directly impacts their health and capacity to effectively access education, employment and a life of dignity. Apnalaya tackles this problem, targeting core groups at different stages of their lives where they are most vulnerable, with the dual aim of both reducing immediate malnutrition through access to and use of available health services and educating people on how to achieve better nutrition outcomes within their financial constraints.
With support from Save the Children, Apnalaya held a Consultation on Government and Civil Society Partnership to Improve Maternal and Child Health on 20th December 2019. Government officials, NGOs, social enterprise partners, members from the community, frontline health workers and ICDS sevikas attended this consultation.
The objective of this consultation was to discuss how access to health care services and improved health seeking behaviour streamlines outcomes for maternal and child health and how the road to achieving outcomes for maternal & child health is possible through government and civil society partnership. The idea of this consultation was to felicitate the path breaking work of frontline workers of the ICDS and the government health posts.
The context of the consultation was set by the President of Apnalaya, Annabel Mehta and our CEO Arun Kumar, after which frontline workers were felicitated, followed by two panel discussions that dovetailed the proceedings of the day.
The first panel on Multi Sectoral collaboration to boost Maternal & Child health comprised panelists, Dr Shalini Bharat – Director TISS, Dr Vilas Somvanshi – Consultant – Save the Children, Tarana Mendiratta – CSR Advisor and Consultant CareNX, Dr Ninad Salunkhe – COO Apnalaya. This panel was moderated by Piyasree Mukherjee – Founding Team Sahayog Foundation.
“To ensure holistic development, it’s important to incorporate health issues in the work of all ministries. For example, if we are working on construction of toilets but the housing sector is not included, then people in the community who have tuberculosis will spread the disease due to inappropriate design in housing, thus making the entire community susceptible to tuberculosis,” said Dr Bharat. Partnerships among NGO’s and the difficulties they face were discussed.
Post lunch, the second panel discussion on Innovative solutions to address urban malnutrition comprised panelists, Dr Mathew George – Professor for Public Health TISS, Sushma Shinde – Programme Director SNEHA, Neha Madhivala – Director Armman. This panel was moderated by Poornima Nair – Director Health & Disability Apnalaya.
The panelists emphasised on how important it is for parents, especially fathers to ensure care and adequate nutrition in children. In regions where women are empowered, levels of malnutrition among children are low. “Gender empowerment directly and positively affects malnutrition. If there are more empowered women with agency, there are lesser chances of malnutrition,” said Neha Madhivala.
The consultation ended with a promise to revive the M East Ward forum as a platform to take ownership and getting together towards working on malnutrition.