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Vitamin A to help reduce malnutrition in Jharkhand

Ranchi, June 1: The Jharkhand Matri Shishu Swasthya avam Poshan Maah (JMSSPM), jointly organized by the departments of Health & Family Welfare and Women & Child Development and supported by UNICEF Jharkhand was inaugurated by Raghubar Das, the Chief Minister of Jharkhand in Project Bhawan.

During this month long campaign (1-30 June) vitamin A supplementation and deworming tablets (albendazole) will be given to children aged 1 to 5 years.

The other components of this campaign are routine immunization for missed out children; screening of children (6 months – 5 years) for severe acute malnutrition; iron tablets for pregnant and lactating mothers and adolescent boys and girls; and testing of household salt samples in 8 districts with a high prevalence of iodine deficiency disorders – Ranchi, Pakur, Dumka, Sahebganj, Palamu, Deoghar, Godda, Gumla & Lohardaga.

Speaking at the ceremony, Raghubar Das said, “Today is a landmark day for Jharkhand as this campaign brings essential services such as Vitamin A and iron tablets to the women and children in the state. I appeal to all to make this campaign a success especially the anganwadi worker and sahiyas who have an important role in ensuring these services reach everyone in the community.

The government is working on a war footing to make the state swasth, samriddh and malnutrition-free in the next 2 years.”

Ramchandra Chandravanshi, Health Minister said, “Vitamin A deficiency, anemia and malnutrition can inhibit a child’s physical and mental development thereby impacting children’s ability to grow, learn, develop useful skills and participate as productive members of society. The Health department is committed to bringing down the maternal and infant mortality in the state. This campaign will also be supported by the Department of Social Welfare and Panchayati Raj along with NGO partners.”

Ms. Mridula Sinha, Principal Secretary, Department of Women & Child Development said, “Every effort will be made this campaign a success as elimination of malnutrition which is directly linked to vitamin A deficient in children is an integral part of the department. The entire state machinery will be mobilized for this effort.”

K Vidyasagar, Principal Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, “Vitamin A supplementation will reach 38 lakh children across the state. The campaign will run in converge with the Department of Women & Children.”

Deepika Mehrish Sharma, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF says, “Vitamin A supplementation is an essential child survival and development intervention will reduce child mortality by 24%. UNICEF is supporting the campaign through capacity building of front line workers (Anganwadi workers and sahiyas) and social mobilization.

UNICEF has partnered with NGOs for community mobilization and monitoring in hard to reach areas. The State has adopted a biannual approach to reach out to children (1-5 years) with Vitamin A supplementation every 6 months while infants below 1 year receive their first Vitamin A dose along with the measles immunization at 9 months.”

During the campaign, mothers and caregivers will be counselled on infant and young child feeding practices namely initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth; exclusive breastfeeding for first six months of life & adequate, appropriate and timely complementary feeding starting from the 7th month with continued breastfeeding for two years.

Information & communication material has been specially designed for dissemination during the month long activity including poster, FAQs and jingles in 6 local languages – Ho, Santhali, Nagpuri, Mundari, Hindi and Bengali.

The programme was attended by Mr. Singhmar, MD NRHM; Mr. Praveen Chandra, Director in Chief- Food; Dr. Sumant Mishra (Director in Chief-Health Services) among others.

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