DIMAPUR, APRIL 11 (MExN): Coordinated nutrition intervention programmes in Tuensang have helped to enhance health services in the region.
The programme under Poshan Abihyan, Department of Social Welfare has been integrated into the health effort implemented jointly between Eleutheros Christian Society (ECS) supported by HCL Foundation, the Health Department and the community.
The intervention which was built around complementary feeding, is conducted once a month and the feeding serves as a hub for provision of health services, nutrition education, a platform for inter sectoral convergence and interface between the community and the health system.
It targets pregnant women, lactating mothers and children upto 1 year and is implemented through the Church. The Church contributes 2 percent of the feeding cost, provides the space for cooking and feeding and takes care of any other shortfalls, informed a press release from the ECS Tuensang.
The activities built around the feeding include ANC and health checkups, immunization, complementary feeding and targeted feeding, anthropometry, health talks, nutrition education and counselling, Anaemia screening, home visits, capacity building of AWWs, ASHAs and feeding committees, and monthly community review
In preparation, village level plans were drawn and responsibilities divided for cooking, serving, growth measurements, documentation, ANC and immunization services, education sessions etc. Anemia screening was conducted periodically to identify Anemia among mothers. Under targeted feeding, those tested with severe and moderate Anemia are closely monitored and provided nutritional supplements and counselling at the angangwadi centres. The mothers visit the centre every day and receive eggs and supplements like iron, calcium and vitamins.
The complementary feeding has not only improved the nutrition status but has also contributed to the outcomes of the broader health effort, the press release informed. It has provided the opportunity for the community and various players to converge and synergize their efforts thereby improving service availability and access.
The ECS further said that the strong support from the community and their participation encouraged nurses and staff of health centre to be at their work stations therefore improving service utilization.
“Involvement of the Church broke cultural barriers around pregnancy and childbirth encouraging pregnant women to show up at the feeding centres without inhibitions. Stigma around pregnancy and childbirth was a challenge in the area preventing pregnant women from freely accessing ANC and hospital delivery services,” it added.
After Changlangshu PHC and Mopong PHC, three more centres - Pessao PHC, Wangshu SC and Monyakshu PHC were revived. The institutional deliveries for Tobu in 2020-21 alone was 272 and close to 12,000 patients were seen through OPDs. ECS with support from HCL Foundation, Health Department (NHM) and other well-wishers have deployed 3 doctors, 9 nurses and 2 dhais across six health centres.
The program also helped converge the activities of para workers (ASHA, Anganwadi and health workers) who earlier were unaware of each other’s activities.
One important change made was the improvement in anaemia status among mothers. Identification of anaemia through the screening camps and the close monitoring and support provided to anaemic mothers has helped many to escape their condition. Data from the last three rounds of testing showed improvement in the overall figures with more mothers progressing to improved categories.
In round one, 648 mothers were screened, of which 26 were severely anaemic and 180 with moderate anaemia. 73 of them had moved to mild and another 102 moved to normal in the next test. All 28 mothers with severe anaemia improved to other categories in the second round.
Of the total 655 mothers tested in round two, 371 were in normal levels and another 153 mothers in mild category. The numbers for moderate and severe were smaller at 123 and 8 respectively. All the severely anaemic were new mothers. Of the 8 severe, 2 moved to moderate, 5 to mild and 1 to normal in round three.
In round three, 503 mothers were tested. 8 were severe and 121 in moderate category. All the severe cases were new mothers.
The ECS stated that the strategy of periodically testing mothers and providing focused supervision and support, if sustained, could potentially change the trends even in the short or medium term.