Healthcare for Asha Delhi Slum Children
Enabling young children to achieve their full developmental potential is a human right.
Every day 67,385 babies are born in India. India’s under-5 mortality rate is 37 per 1000 live births; in high income countries the rate is 5 per 1000. Most of the new-born in India die from things that are preventable or treatable: complications due to prematurity or during labour and birth, and infections like sepsis, pneumonia, tetanus, and diarrhoea.
UNICEF reported in 2019 that malnutrition was the reason for 69% of the deaths of children under the age of five in India and that every second child in India from 0-5 years is affected by malnutrition.
Health workers in slums are essential to support successful early childhood development
Asha’s Child Health Care Program provides the following to children between 0-5 years in the Delhi slum population of 700,000:
- Well Baby Clinics- Asha’s trained Community Health volunteers (CHVs) weekly monitor children’s health. The weight, height, and other parameters are measured, recorded in a “Road-To-Health” chart. Children are provided doses of iron, zinc, vitamin supplements and deworming.
- Immunization- Children are immunized as per WHO protocol against 10 preventable diseases. Immunization is a key factor in reducing child mortality.
- Prevention and treatment of Malnutrition- Malnutrition is detected both through regular monitoring of weight as well as measuring mid arm circumference and is treated with nutritional supplements and micronutrients. Mothers are provided dietary advice.
- Care during illness- CHVs treat childhood illnesses in their allocated community zones, particularly diarrhoea and respiratory tract infections.
- Water and Sanitation Services- The Asha Women’s Advocacy groups lobby local government officials for improvement in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) levels, toilet construction, access to clean water, open drain cleaning, and solid waste disposal.
Impact of Asha’s Child Healthcare Program:
- 98% of children under 5 years of age in all Asha community are immunized against 10 preventable diseases, in contrast with 44% of children under 5 years of age in other slums.
- 90% of children under 5 years in Asha slums are healthy in contrast with 50% of healthy children in other slums.
- 97% of Asha’s children under 5 years receive Iron, Zinc, and Vitamin A supplements for ensuring proper growth. In the rest of India, 60% children receive Vitamin-A supplementation.
- Asha’s Under 5 mortality rate – 13 per thousand live births. India’s under 5 mortality rate in 2019 – 34.3 per thousand live births.
Anushka’s Road to Health
Two-year-old Anushka, daughter of Sandhya and Anup, residents of Kalkaji slum, was born prematurely, when her mother was in the seventh month of her pregnancy.
Anup works as an assistant in a nearby computer repair shop with a monthly salary of Rs 8000 (£ 82/$106), which was not enough to provide for the family which included elderly parents, his brother, and his sister. The economic condition of the family forced Sandhya to do household work even during the advanced stages of her pregnancy.
Sandhya unfortunately one day lifted a heavy object while working at her employer’ home and started bleeding profusely. Asha’s community health volunteer rushed Sandhya to a nearby government hospital.
Baby Anushka was born through caesarean delivery. Anushka had health complications as a neonate. She did not get breastfed because of her mother’s condition and was provided with formula feeds. At the time of birth, Anushka weighed just 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs).
The Asha team took regular care of Anushka and her mother, monitoring their health. Anushka developed bouts of fever and diarrheal illness during the first two months of life and was treated at the Asha centre. She was given regular immunizations and micronutrient supplements. Anushka’s weight is now normal for her age. Her mother brings her regularly to the Well Baby clinic at Asha where her health is monitored.