Hemlata comes with great educational qualifications and she’s from Hathas in Uttar Pradesh. After she lost her husband about 14 years ago, she has been living with her parents in Delhi. She says that she was teaching children below six years of age and one day walked in for an interview for the post of an Anganwadi worker and got selected. Working for children became her passion and she first joined an Anganwadi centre in Rangpur Pahari under Mehrauli ICDS project. It has been 11 years for her as an Anganwadi worker. She was placed in Nardan Basti in 2016.
Malnutrition – not the focus then
“Our main focus was to run the Anganwadi centre and to implement its services. Our focus shifted toward malnutrition some years ago when we came to know about the widespread of malnutrition in our area.”
The first training on growth monitoring and running the Anganwadi centre effectively was done by NIPCCD some years ago.
Receiving community support
Sharing her experience about implementing the services of Integrated Child Development Scheme through Anganwadi centres, Hemlata says that “When I started working in Lal Kuan, the Anganwadi worker was absent and the Anganwadi centre was completely messed up. After I took charge it took me many months to settle things and to receive community support. Very few children were accessing the Anganwadi centre and the community had issues related to quality of food served in Anganwadi centres.”
She started interacting with the community. She informed the community about her work and motivated the community to come and visit the Anganwadi centre’s services. She also started focussing on monitoring the weight of the children on regular basis.
“We’ve noted that growth monitoring of all children below six years is one of the activities undertaken by Anganwadi workers under the ICDS programme. The severely underweight children are being referred to primary health centres with the help of ASHA workers and necessary follow-ups are being done at the family level thereafter”.
Preventive and Curative Care of Severely Underweight Children Started
The severely acute malnourished children were now being monitored twice in a month. She started referring severely underweight children to the Primary Health Centre. During her work in Nardan Basti she not only identified 12 severely underweight children from her area with the help of the ASHA worker and Matri Sudha but also referred them to the nearest primary health centre. The team worked hard to improve the nutritional status of children through interventions at the family level. Due to successive interventions the health of 6 children has improved greatly. The other children are under supervision.
She spread awareness to the lactating mothers and pregnant women regarding exclusive breastfeeding, complementary feeding, immunisation, registration with ASHA worker etc. The period following her work in the community seen the major changes as:
- The community is becoming aware about the importance of registration of child with Anganwadi centre
- They keep asking the Anganwadi worker to monitor the growth of their child on a regular basis
- The pregnant women come by themselves to register their names in the Anganwadi centres in the first trimester which is then linked to ASHA worker
- The pregnant and lactating mothers have started to ask about their health issues during monthly meetings and home visits
- The mothers are sending their children for Pre-School education
- The community takes supplementary nutrition from the Anganwadi centre
- Community women attend the monthly meetings in Anganwadi centre
The joint intervention together with ASHA worker helps a lot since “it help identify underweight children through growth monitoring and refer them the severely underweight children to the primary health centre through the ASHA worker.” The ASHA worker in that area is also very active and supportive and works together to address the issue of malnutrition.
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