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World Health Day

Good Health Is Dependent On Access To Good Sanitation Facilities: Union Minister Smriti Irani

World Health Day 2023: Union Minister of Women and Child Development, Smriti Irani on her government’s efforts to address the challenge of nutrition and improve maternal and child health

New Delhi: “Health For All” is a goal that is at the core of both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, reinforced by 16 other SDGs to be attained by 2030. The theme for World Health Day 2023 is Health For All – everyone, everywhere attaining the highest level of health and well-being. And when we talk about health, we cannot ignore maternal health, the foundation of a child’s health and well-being. This World Health Day, the NDTV-Dettol Banega Swasth India team speaks with Smriti Irani, Union Minister for Women and Child Development.

As per the Sample Registration System (SRS) Bulletin of Registrar General of India (RGI), the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) in India has reduced from 37 per 1,000 live births in 2015 to 30 per 1,000 live births in 2019. Similarly, the Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) has reduced from 130 per lakh live births in 2014-16 to 97 per lakh live births in 2018-20 at the national level. While we have made progress, how do we ensure even better facilities for mothers and infants? And, more importantly, address the challenge of nutrition and bring about more awareness on eating right for both the mother and child.

Also Read: Health Of Our Environment Interlinked With The Health Of Humans, Especially Mothers: Dia Mirza

Here Are The 10 Things Union Minister Smriti Irani Said On Improving Mother And Child Health:

  1. We have to recognise that there is a cyclic impact on a child’s health, it depends on the health of a woman, the mother giving birth. Father’s health also contributes to a child’s health. And genetic predisposition affects a child’s health and future and this needs to be recognised. And that is why what is the cyclic impact the government is unleashing? The government has done much on four levels – nutrition, clean water, sanitation facilities and access to affordable medicines.
  2. Sanitation: Not many people know that good health is dependent on access to good sanitation facilities. Washing of hands, you need to have access to clean water. So, if you look at the Jal Jeevan mission and the Prime Minister’s agenda of ensuring every home has tapped water. That is an initiative that is equally based on health as much as it is based on access to clean drinking water.
  3. Access to clean toilets: Prime Minister has built 110 million individual household toilets in the past eight to nine years. Building toilets is equally important for healthy living circumstances for a woman, child or the family at large.
  4. Access to nutrition: In the past two and a half years, the Prime Minister has ensured that 800 million Indians get access to free food and free ration. For which money is spent by the Government of India alone; it’s from the national treasury. The doorstep delivery of the same is also accompanied by additional nutrition support for pregnant, lactating women, and children under the age of 6.
  5. Access to affordable medication: Now we have over 9,000 plus Jan Aushadhi Kendras in the country, which, in fact, have 40 products, particularly highlighted only for women. Menstrual health and hygiene included. One of them is the Rs. 1 sanitary pad that the Prime Minister spoke about.
  6. Infrastructurally, the government has also ensured that over one lakh plus wellness centers open up in the country. Now every district in our country will have a medical college. The number of AIIMS (All India Institute Of Medical Sciences) has literally gone up. But apart from that, the infrastructural support needed for district hospitals – Primary Health Centers (PHCs) and Community Health Centers (CHCs) is also something that the government has accorded much fiscal support to.
  7. POSHAN Abhiyaan, which is a Prime Minister’s flagship scheme for the nutrition of pregnant, lactating women and children under the age of 6 is not run by us alone. It’s an amalgam of 18 ministries which include Sports Ministry, Rural Development Ministry, Urban Development Ministry, Jal Shakti and even Agriculture. It’s a combined governmental initiative, which we ensure, percolates to the ground with the support because ultimately, the basic infrastructure lies with the state governments.
  8. Nutrition still remains a huge challenge for our country “because it’s an intra-generational challenge”. It is not a challenge only limited to feeding a child.
  9. Though the UN agencies have come up with a campaign called WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), wasn’t every Indian mother getting it done at her home anyways? What did mom say every time you said, “I want to eat”. “Did you wash your hands?” It was a part of the culture. I am happy it’s labeled now, but it was genuinely a way of life for all of us.
  10. Sanitation was a bit of a problem because they’d had no access. So, the Prime Minister created access and financial support for it. It is not that everybody is happy to defecate in the open. It’s just that they didn’t have the money to build a toilet earlier.

Also Read: POSHAN 2.0: How Can India Attain Zero Malnutrition Target?

You can listen to the full Banega Swasth India podcast discussion by hitting the play button on the Spotify player embedded above.

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NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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