My Abhinandan Educational And Welfare Society

How to Address Malnutrition and Child Health in Urban Slums

Child Healthcare NGOs

Malnutrition and child health are major public health challenges in India, especially in urban slums where poverty, overcrowding, poor sanitation, and lack of access to health services and nutritious food contribute to high rates of undernutrition, stunting, wasting, and mortality among children under five years of age. According to a survey conducted by the charity Child Rights and You (CRY), 36% of 3,650 children surveyed in Delhi’s slums lacked nutritious food and were underweight, and one third of that percentage showed signs of severe wasting. Malnutrition was higher among girls than boys at 38% against 34%, the survey found. Malnutrition not only affects the physical well-being of children, but also their cognitive development, immunity, and long-term health outcomes.

To address this problem, a multi-sectoral and holistic approach is needed, involving the government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the private sector, and the community. In this article, we will discuss some of the key strategies and interventions that can help improve malnutrition and child health in urban slums, with a focus on New Delhi and the role of My Abhinandan NGO, a non-profit organization that aims to improve the lives of slum dwellers through various interventions, such as health camps, nutrition education, vocational training, and women empowerment.

Improving Maternal Health and Nutrition

One of the key factors that influences the nutritional status of children is the health and nutrition of their mothers before, during, and after pregnancy. Maternal factors, such as education, age, and anemia, have a significant impact on the birth weight, growth, and development of children. Therefore, it is essential to improve maternal health and nutrition by providing antenatal and postnatal care, iron and folic acid supplementation, immunization, and family planning services. Moreover, it is important to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and appropriate complementary feeding practices thereafter, as breast milk provides the optimal nutrition and protection for infants. NGOs such as Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI) and MAMTA work to raise awareness and support mothers on optimal infant and young child feeding practices.

Enhancing the Integrated Child Development Services

The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is a government scheme that provides supplementary nutrition, health check-ups, immunization, and pre-school education to children under six years and pregnant and lactating women. The ICDS is the largest community-based program in the world, reaching more than 100 million beneficiaries in India. However, the ICDS faces several challenges, such as inadequate infrastructure, staff shortage, irregular supply of food, and low utilization of services. Child Welfare NGOs can play a vital role in strengthening the ICDS by monitoring its implementation, providing technical assistance, mobilizing community participation, and advocating for policy reforms.

Addressing the Social Determinants of Malnutrition

Malnutrition is not only a result of insufficient food intake, but also a consequence of various social, economic, and environmental factors that affect the availability, accessibility, and affordability of nutritious food, as well as the utilization of health services and the adoption of healthy behaviors. Some of these factors include poverty, inequality, gender discrimination, and lack of education and awareness. NGOs can help address these issues by empowering women and girls, providing livelihood opportunities, improving sanitation and hygiene, and educating communities on the importance of nutrition and health.

Promoting Community-Based Nutrition Management

One of the ways to ensure a sustainable and diversified food supply for vulnerable populations is to promote community-based nutrition management, such as kitchen gardens, grain banks, and poultry farms. These initiatives can help improve food security, dietary diversity, and income generation, as well as reduce dependence on external sources of food. NGOs can support these initiatives by providing seeds, tools, training, and market linkages.

The Role of My Abhinandan NGO in New Delhi

One of the best Healthcare NGOs that is working to address malnutrition and child health in urban slums in New Delhi is My Abhinandan, a non-profit organization that aims to improve the lives of slum dwellers through various interventions, such as health camps, nutrition education, vocational training, and women empowerment. My Abhinandan works in collaboration with local government agencies, health centers, schools, and community groups to reach out to the most marginalized and vulnerable sections of the society. Some of the activities and achievements of My Abhinandan are:

  • Organizing regular health camps in slums to provide free medical check-ups, diagnosis, treatment, and referral services to children and women. The health camps also offer counseling, awareness, and guidance on various health issues, such as anemia, diarrhea, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and reproductive health.
  • Conducting nutrition education sessions for mothers and children to impart knowledge and skills on proper nutrition and dietary practices, such as breastfeeding, complementary feeding, balanced diet, and food hygiene. The sessions also include demonstrations and distribution of nutritious recipes, such as sprouted pulses, porridge, and khichdi, made from locally available and affordable ingredients.
  • Providing vocational training and skill development courses for women and youth to enhance their employability and income generation potential. The courses include tailoring, embroidery, beauty care, computer literacy, and spoken English. The trainees are also linked to microfinance institutions, self-help groups, and employers for further support and opportunities.
  • Empowering women and girls to become agents of change in their communities by forming women’s groups, adolescent girls’ clubs, and child rights clubs. These groups provide a platform for women and girls to discuss and address various issues affecting their lives, such as domestic violence, child marriage, dowry, and gender discrimination. The groups also participate in advocacy and awareness campaigns on various social and legal issues, such as the right to education, the right to health, and the right to information.

By working at the grassroots level, My Abhinandan is making a positive difference in the lives of slum dwellers in New Delhi, especially children and women, who are the most vulnerable to malnutrition and poor health. My Abhinandan believes that every child has the right to a healthy and happy life, and strives to create a conducive environment for their growth and development.

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