Home > India > India – Anganwadis (government sponsored child-care and mother-care centers) and medical surveillance in informal settlements

India – Anganwadis (government sponsored child-care and mother-care centers) and medical surveillance in informal settlements

Anganwadis have a role to play

PUNE: A network of approximately 1,203 anganwadi workers, spread across the length and breadth of city’s slums, is lying untapped.

These angandwadi workers say that if they are given basic training, they can work as counsellors and create awareness about the H1N1 contagion among the slum dwellers.

“Anganwadi workers should be given some kind of formal training. With this, we can at least spread basic awareness about the symptoms of the flu among slum dwellers during our home visits. Besides, knowledge about a few precautionary measures can make a huge difference in containing the spread in slums,” said Prema Ghadge, project officer of Dapodi-Bopodi project. The Dapodi-Bopodi ICDS project has around 86 such anganwadi workers operating in slums of Vishrantwadi, Lohegaon, Dapodi, Bopodi and Sangamwadi, said Ghadge.

The death of 35-year-old Shabana Shaikh from Kashewadi slums in Bhavani Peth on Wednesday has underscored the need for extensive awareness and exhaustive medical surveillance of the 560 slums scattered across the city. Corporators have asked the administration to carry out medical surveillance of these slums on top priority since 42 per cent of the population of the city live in these slums.

Every anganwadi worker is responsible for 1,000 slum dwellers. “An anganwadi worker is supposed to visit five families in slums every day. The major focus of their work is to look after pregnant women and malnourished children and maintain their record. Moreover counselling family members on these health parameters is also a prime area of their routine work,” said Ghadge.

When asked about the need and benefits of such training, Ghadge said, “Anganwadi workers are just 10 class passed. They are trained in particular health issues like pregnancy and malnutrition. That’s why they should be given formal training about the basic aspects of the H1N1 influenza.”

“An anganwadi worker is a known face among the slum dwellers. That’s why a training given to them about the H1N1 influenza can make a lot of difference,” said Dilip Sarda, president of the city unit of Indian Medical Association (IMA).

“All the information that we are disseminating among slum dwellers about the H1N1 influenza is either through television or newspapers. A formal training in this regard would prove helpful,” said Ashwini Kamble, child development project officer (CDPO), Shivajinagar.

Yojna Shinde, the CDPO of Ghorpadi-Kondhwa, agreed that a formal training will help them in doing their job better. “Anganwadi has a huge resource which can be tapped in this state of emergency. There are 152 anganwadi workers under me and the total population of the areas that come under me is roughly 1.5 lakh. There are about seven other officers like me with approximately equal population. That means we have access to a very large population. Though at our own level also we are planning to invite an expert or a medical officer to talk to people living in slums in the coming week,” said Shinde.

Commenting on the need for a basic training course, Mahendra Gaikwad, project officer of the Hadapsar project said, “A basic training seminar would not take more than two hours. But it can be of great help and it is the need of the hour.” Around 167 anganwadis come under the Hadapsar project. They collectively cater to a population of roughly 1.7 lakh people. If the flu spreads across these slums, it will become very difficult to contain it, said Gaikwad.

Vijay Taware, project officer of the Kothrud project said, “We have been educating two employees in each of the 136 anganwadis in swine flu that come under the kothrud project. We have given them basic information about the disease, how it spreads and how it can be prevented. However, whatever we have told them is what we see on the television or read in the newspapers. We are no doctors or experts to train these people. Hence, a formal training, even if a basic one given by an expert can be of a lot of help.”

Seconding the idea of a basic training on H1N1 influenza for these anganwadi workers, Suvarna Pawar, who looks after the slums of Bhavani peth said, “More than 1 lakh 35 thousand slum dwellers come under my supervision. And there are 133 anganwadis to look after them. Giving all the anganwadi workers some sort of training regarding the disease is the easiest way of spreading awareness among these people as they are in regular contact with the people of these slums.

She further added, “Under the ICDS scheme, we have been spreading awareness about other diseases like malaria, tuberculosis and dengue. But since H1N1 is a new disease, we ourselves did not know much about it. Hence, a training course can be of a lot of help as then these people will be able to counsel a large number of people.”

When contacted M S Devnikar, additional municipal commissioner of PMC said, “It is true that this network of anganwadi workers can be roped in effectively to check the spread of H1N1 influenza in slums. Earlier, we have taken some steps to educate them. We will definitely extend them proper training in the next few days.”

Agreeing to it, Sanjay Maskar, deputy CEO of Zilla Parishad said, “It is true that these anganwadi workers should be given formal training about the H1N1 influenza. Earlier, we have conducted a few camps in the districts. Now, we will conduct their formal training and give them clear cut information regarding the basic aspects of the dreaded infection.” There are 4316 anganwadi workers in Pune district, added Maskar.

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