Sonia Gandhi to launch health programme in Thane tomorrow

Sonia Gandhi

Congress President Sonia Gandhi will launch a national health programme in Palghar, a tribal block in Maharashtra''s Thane district, tomorrow.

The National Rural Health Mission of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India's new initiative of child health screening and early intervention services will provide comprehensive care to all children.

The purpose of these services is to improve the overall quality of life of children through early detection of birth defects, diseases, deficiencies, development delays including disability.

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan will be present on the occasion.

It may be mentioned that the burden of birth defects, development delays due to deficiencies and diseases is significant in children. This is also one of the important factors for child mortality and out of pocket expenditure for poor families. Birth defects account for 9.6 percent of all new-born deaths and 4 percent of under five mortality. According to March of Dimes, 2006, out of every 100 babies born in this country annually, 6 to 7 have a birth defect. In Indian context, this would translate to 17 lakhs birth defects annually.

Development delays affect at least 10 percent children and these delays if not intercepted timely may lead to permanent disabilities including cognitive, hearing or vision.

A set of thirty common conditions have been identified for screening and further management. These services are built on the existing school health services and these services will be provided through dedicated mobile health teams placed in every block. The block level dedicated mobile medical health teams would comprise of four health personnel viz. two AYUSH doctors (one male, one female), ANM/ SN and a pharmacist.

The teams will carry out screening of all the children in the age group 0 - 6 years enrolled at Anganwadi centres at least twice a year besides screening of all children enrolled in Government and Government aided schools.

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