Social uplift of women is must to ensure success of schemes aimed at development of women and children, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said here today.
"Empowerment of women impacts the health of the girl child. The UPA government has recently promulgated an ordinance regarding atrocities against women. Similarly, laws have been enacted for tackling domestic violence, provide property rights, and reservation for women in local bodies," Gandhi said.
Speaking at the launch of the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (Child Health Screening and Early Intervention Services
programme) at the tribal town here in Thane district of Maharashtra, Gandhi hoped that the objective of the National Rural Health Mission
(NRHM) initiative to benefit 27 crore children would be achieved through effective implementation and monitoring.
The scheme will be extended to cover all districts in the country in a phased manner, she said.
Challenges in health sector for welfare of women and children were immense, she said. "Despite best efforts, infant mortality is an area of concern. 40 per cent children are still affected by malnutrition," she said.
The Centre has ensured that there has been no shortage of funds for social welfare and human resources development, she said.
"Under the NRHM, Rs 90,000 crore have been provided to states. Maharashtra has taken maximum benefit of the funds because of which infant and mother mortality rate have reduced considerably," she said.
"Children are the future of the country. Their well-being is our concern. That is why the Congress-led government has started such
programmes," she said.
"It has been an endeavour of our government that there should be no shortage of funds for public health schemes," she said adding that eradication of polio is a big achievement.
Till now, children below 6 years were examined in "anganwadis" by medical officers of primary health
centres, while children from 6 to 18 years were covered under school health
With the new initiative, all children below 18 years will be under one umbrella. This initiative will certainly be helpful in improving the health of children attending anganwadis and schools, as well as those outside it, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said.
This will ultimately result in reducing child mortality to a great extent, he added.
A set of 30 common ailments have been identified for screening and early intervention.
In Maharashtra, 4,601 schools and 6,54,915 students will be covered in Thane district. As many as 6,695 anganwadis and 6,01,365 children below six years will be covered.
The programme's objective is to improve the overall quality of life of children through early detection of birth defects, diseases, deficiencies, development delays, including disability.
Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad was also present at the launch ceremony, which saw hundreds of school children present.
Early identification of select health conditions and their linkage to care, support and treatment, under Child Health Screening and Early Intervention Services is expected to achieve equitable child health care, a senior official said.
During her speech, the UPA chairperson also expressed concerns over the issue of malnutrition. "No doubt we have made a good progress in various fields, but malnutrition is still a cause of concern," she said.
"However, the Food Security Bill, which is on the way, will surely help reduce this. Government knows that a healthy mother means a healthy child and hence we have to take care of both," .
She said that since the UPA government is concerned about the health and education of children, 12 crore children studying in government schools were being provided mid-day meals.
On the occasion, she also launched a micro-ATM facility for Accredited Social Health Activist
(ASHA) workers, so that they can directly withdraw their money from the bank. Their Aadhaar card number is linked to a private bank, through which they will get the
Anjani Ramesh Bond, an ASHA worker from Palghar received her card from Gandhi at the function.