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September 1-7 is National Nutrition Week.
India is a nation where one in three children die due to malnutrition. The Indian government implementing a number of nutrition programmes for school going children, but there still is a long way to go. In this year's political manifesto, the BJP government said,'School health program would be a major focus area, and health and hygiene will be made a part of the school curriculum.' In their political manifesto, the BJP mentioned school health as one of its priorities. Well, we have a few wishes from our new government with respect to children's health and nutrition. Here are the top 5:
1. Improve implementation of Right to Health for children: Each day millions of children suffer from the scourges of poverty and economic crisis - from hunger and homelessness; from epidemics and illiteracy and from degradation of the environment. We need to ensure that children have equal rights and access to health and education, two key factors that are essential for growth and development. After all healthy children will make are the future of our nation.
2. Improve implementation of Right to Education: The Right to Education Act was started in the country but there are still stories of children being turned away from schools. We wish this government would improve the way the act is implemented to so every child has access to good quality education.
3. Improve surveillance mechanisms to track diseases in children: The new government has the opportunity to fine-tune and roll out the RBSK the programme under which the School Health Programme will soon be subsumed. RBSK focuses on comprehensive child health care, implies assurance of extensive health services for all children from birth to 18 years of age for a set of health conditions. These conditions are diseases, deficiencies, disability and developmental delays - 4 Ds. Universal screening would lead to early detection of medical conditions, timely intervention, ultimately leading to a reduction in mortality, morbidity and lifelong disability.
4. Conduct early detection and management of diseases including deficiencies: Deficiencies and non-communicable diseases in children often go unnoticed due to poverty, lack of access to proper medical care and good screening facilities. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, more than 5 crore adolescents (15-19 years) are anaemic in the country suffer from iron deficiency anaemia and are at risk of several related ailments. This statistic is staggering and therefore we wish that this government would help detect these deficiencies early and stop their progression.
5. Improve surveillance mechanisms to track diseases in children: In the same vein, tracking the diseases in children is equally important. Not only will it help us see how well a particular health strategy might be doing, it will also help us see where we need to improve.
Finally, healthy, strong and mentally sound children are the future of this country and it is about time we took some substantial steps to help make the children in our country fit.
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 BJP (2014) Political manifesto. Available from: http://bjpelectionmanifesto.com/pdf/manifesto2014.pdf
2 Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (2013). National Health Misson: RBSK. Available from: http://nrhm.gov.in/nrhm-components/rmnch-a/child-health-immunization/rashtriya-bal-swasthya-karyakram-rbsk/background.html
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