Congress President and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi launched a new scheme on Wednesday to improve child healthcare under the National Rural Health Mission.
“Today a new lamp of Rashtriy Bal Suraksha Karyakram (RBSK) has just been lightened. Its light and its message will spread throughout the country” said Sonia Gandhi while speaking at the launch function.
“Children are the future of the country. Their well-being is our concern. That is why the Congress-led UPA government has started such programmes,” she said and added. “It has been the endeavour of our government that there should be no shortage of funds for public health schemes.”
She added that the health of children is directly linked to the well-being of the mother, for which the central and state governments have taken several measures. "Nearly 40 percent of children in the country continue to be malnourished, a matter of grave concern. I am confident that the RBSK will prove to be successful in controlling the problem," Sonia Gandhi said.
She pointed out that just a few years ago, over 2,00,000 children fell victims to polio each year. "Now, India is polio-free, a major achievement for the country as a result of the initiative taken by Rajiv Ji,". She further said that the Food Security Bill would contribute towards reducing malnutrition among children. “To make children’s life healthy and cheerful we have taken many steps. We passed the Right to Education Act so that no child of this country remains bereft of the benefits of education” said Sonia Gandhi.
Under this new scheme every child younger than six years would be screened for 30 select deficiencies and disorders. The scheme, named Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (a child health screening and early intervention initiative), has been kicked off at Palghar, a tribal block in Maharashtra's Thane district, which envisages issuing a follow-up or treatment guidance to children, depending on their symptoms and health status. The government plans to roll out this scheme for 27 crore children under 18 years in phased manner. The 30 deficiencies and disorders that children would be screened for include anemia, vitamin A, vitamin D, acute malnutrition, goiter, alongside some congenital diseases such as cataract, deafness, heart diseases.
It is estimated that about a tenth of India's die of birth defects, while hearing or vision-related developmental delays affect 10% of children, which could lead to permanent disabilities later in life. The services will be provided through dedicated mobile health teams, comprising two doctors (one male and one female), nurse and a pharmacist, located in every block. The teams will carry out screening of all the children up to the age of six years and enrolled at Anganwadi centres at least twice a year. It will also screen all children enrolled in government and government-aided schools.