We have collaborated with the Sukma district administration to reduce malnutrition in 2 Gram Panchayats, Jhapra & Burudi, consisting of a total of 13 villages with a population of around 5000. Our team started working in Jhapra – Gram Panchayat of Sukma district from September, 2016.
Jhapra Panchayat Profile:
Jhapra gram Panchayat has 3 villages – Jhapra, Kosabandar & Mulaguda. 100% of the people belong to Gond tribal (ST) community. Primary livelihood source is agriculture which is rainfed and they get only one crop per year. The other source of income is MFP (Minor Forest Produce) collection.
We follow a community-centric approach in addressing malnutrition. We create a cadre of community resource persons by building capacities of local villagers to ensure sustainability of our work.
Our approach to saving lives of children involves prevention, diagnosis & treatment of malnutrition by working closely with the communities & the government.
Prevention: Research suggests that a few practices can lead to big drops in newborn deaths & malnutrition:
- Practice of Institutional delivery,
- Breastfeeding (Colostrum) in the first hour,
- Exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months,
- Complementary feeding from 7th month, and
- Kangaroo care: skin-to-skin contact between mother & child to raise body temperature.
But, none of these practices are followed in tribal areas due to archaic beliefs. We are using an innovative IEC (Information, Education & Communication) campaign to bring necessary behavior change.
Diagnosis: Early detection of malnourishment is very crucial to prevent death & life-long effects of malnutrition. We follow WHO/NHM guidelines to diagnose SAM (Severe Acute Malnourished) and MAM (Medium Acute Malnourished) kids in the age group of 6 months to 6 years. Measuring Weight, MUAC (Mid Upper Arm Circumference) and checking Edema is a part of the process.
We are building a cadre of Nutrition Resource Persons (NRPs) within the community who will carry out weekly checkup of all the kids (6 months – 6 years) in the village. NRPs work closely with the ASHA & Aanganwadi Workers.
Treatment: SAM (Severely Acute Malnourished) kids are admitted in the Nutrition Rehabilitation Center (Run by the government, National Health Mission (NHM)). They get proper treatment there and then discharged after necessary weight gain. We constantly follow up with the families after discharge to ensure that they don’t become malnourished again.
Convincing tribal families for admission in NRC and ensuring their stay in the NRC till the treatment is completed has been a big challenge. We are making persistent efforts to make the families understand the consequences of being a SAM kid.
MAM (Medium Acute Malnourished) kids are treated at the community level itself through providing additional diet at Anganwadi centers and are kept under close supervision.