Niramaya Health Foundation is a non-profit and non-government organization commenced in June 2001 in Mumbai and committed to improving the health of the communities it serves. Niramaya was conceptualized even before that, in 1999, to tackle commonly found ‘Micronutrient Deficiencies’ in preschool children. Originally an endeavor of Pratham Mumbai Education Initiative to improve the health of balwadi (pre-school) going children, Niramaya took a shape and came into existence. Since Niramaya’s inception the healthcare activities have broadened beyond child health and nutrition to good health for all. Niramaya has also expanded the range of the healthcare activities from curative to preventive and promotive and focus has broadened beyond child health and nutrition to good health for all.
Niramaya believes in carrying out cost effective, measurable and sustainable health care projects and programs for marginalized communities.
Malnutrition once bogged down half the population of children living in the slums of Andheri-Marol pipeline. Efforts and activities undertaken over five years by an NGO, the Nirmaya Health Foundation have helped over 150 malnourished children recover to ‘healthy status’.
After a survey shed light on the dismal status of health of women and children in the slums near Andheri-Marol pipeline area, in 2012 the NGO decided to undertake up a children’s health project to reduce infant and child mortality among children between 0-5 years.
The plan sought out a step-by-step approach of identifying the target group, and educating and informing them about positive health-seeking behaviour.
However, implementing it was not easy.
“Initially, they were reluctant to listen. Door to door visits to create awareness, and involving local women, especially mothers of infants or children helped take things forward effectively,” said Dr Vinayak Sonwane, Programme Manager and Project in-charge.
Women of the slum were roped in and trained to prepare nutritious foods as best as they could within their means. They were also guided on various immunisations that children needed.
As part of the initiative, the NGO reached over 10,000 families in the last five years.
In the initial years, slums covered were Annawadi, Gautam Nagar, Sanjay Nagar, Sai Nagar, Indira Nagar, Mariyam Nagar, Lelewadi and Ashok Nagar along Andheri-Marol pipeline.
Dr Sonwane said, “After initial success, we scaled up the project to new communities like Nehru Nagar, Sai Baba Nagar, Shivaji Nagar 1, Shivaji Nagar 2, Upadhay Nagar, Krishna Nagar and Bhandarwada.”
According to the WHO, new-borns face the highest risk of dying within a few days of birth. “Majority of these children can be saved by access to simple and affordable intervention. Almost half the number of early infant and child mortality incidents is caused by malnutrition. Child health is not an issue that is restricted to the rural areas; in fact it has become a grave problem in the overcrowded urban slums,” said Dr Sonawane.
“In 2015-16, the NGO along with Glenmark, which provided financial support as part of CSR, covered 11 slums under this project, which led 174 malnourished children recovered to healthy status,” said Dr Sonawane.
Cherylann Pinto, Director, Corporate Affairs, Glenmark Pharmaceuticals said, “Through our various interventions launched along with our NGO partners, we aim at encouraging a positive health seeking behaviour among pregnant women and mothers with infants, and caregivers towards right nutrition including — good hygiene practices and ensuring complete immunisation for children.”
Some of the interventions undertaken included medical camps with distribution of health supplements, health awareness and education sessions, celebrating World health Organisation and Central Government-designated days on various health issues, and setting up of ‘health’ libraries. In each slum NGO officials identified a house were they stocked various literature on health programmes and immunisation drives and schemes available to them.
“Around 2,623 people benefitted from 82 health libraries apart from 7,876 beneficiaries attended healthcare sessions conducted by peer leaders. A total 18 health camps were held where 1,096 people benefitted. Also, 1,147 adolescents attended sessions on health-related issues,” Dr Sonawane said. About 52 community women have been trained as peer volunteers and 25 health libraries initiated in the communities through peer leaders.
The NGO claims that in the last five years, malnutrition level among children have fallen from 50 per cent to 9 per cent. “Child immunisation levels have also increased to 95 per cent while antenatal care (ANC) and postnatal care (PNC) registration has increased to 100 per cent,” said Dr Sonawane.
The highlight of the efforts were the cooking competition. “Every three months, women from the slums were encouraged to participate and showcase nutritious recipes. The best 20 of these recipes have been compiled and published in a book,” said Dr Sonawane.
The book aims to enable the mothers in these communities to prepare simple nutritious recipes to improve the health of the children and lead to reduction in the prevalence of malnutrition.
International Women’s Day, as the name implies, is a day to celebrate womanhood, their social, political, cultural, political, economic achievements and their significant contributions to society, while laying importance on gender equality. People come together to commemorate women not just well-known personalities, but also each woman who plays a pivotal part in the shaping of their lives. The 2017 theme for International Women’s Day, 8 March, focuses on “Be Bold for Change”.
From Sita in Ramayana to Rani Jhansi and to Sunita Williams are not only celebrated women but also their contribution to social change and awareness had been immense.
India is fortunate to have had many great women who have proved to be more than a match to men. Their contribution to society in whole and to Women, in Particular, is invaluable. In Modern Indian society, women are playing a stellar role, even challenging the males in Politics. More importantly their role in family building, society development is stupendous. Indian woman is now emerging out of their conventional role, realizing their unlimited potential and have begun to take a major role in all walks of life.
An Indian woman is beautiful, gentle, motherly yet powerful. Indian society looks up to their women folk to take the lead, which is slowly happening. When India becomes a superpower, surely there will be a significant contribution from great women.
To mark and salute the contribution of the women, the entire March month was celebrated as Women’s Day across all the projects of Niramaya Health Foundation. The celebrations of the women’s day were celebrated in association with various CSR partners and Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM). The women’s day was celebrated in Worli, Andheri, Bandra, Mankhurd, Trombay, and Govandi.
Dr. (Mrs.) Mangala Gomare, Dy. Executive Health Officer (Family Welfare & Mother and Child Health) attended the program as chief Guest organized in association with Tata Power Community Development Trust at Trombay. Several esteemed speakers from various fields were part of the event. The speakers stressed on the contribution of the women in the development of the community and society at large.
In order to facilitate the contribution of the women in community development, chief guest for one of the event at Sathe nagar was the woman from the community itself who has been an instrumental in changing the face of the community along with the self development and empowerment. Various activities such as theater plays, stress management lectures, games, were organized during the celebration.
A special session on mental health for women was organized during the women’s day celebration at which was organised in association with KARO Trust at Worli. The chief guest of the event was the medical officer from the health post, who advocated the importance of mental health for women along with good nutritious food.
As the celebration of this momentous occasion ended, each one carried good memories.
Through this event, all community women spent some time for enjoyment.
Girls Health Champions Collaborates with Niramaya Health Foundation Priya Shankar and Ricky Sharma, the co-founders of Girls Health Champions, an organization that trains adolescent girls as peer health educators collaborated with Niramaya Health Foundation in implementing the peer education model in schools in Mumbai, India. Girls Health Champions is a program that was designed and conceived by Priya Shankar (MD/MPH, Harvard School of Public Health 16’, Boston University School of Medicine 17’) and Ricky Sharma (Harvard Kennedy School 18’) and focuses on training adolescent girls in a four-part curriculum including
1. Nutrition and anemia,
2. Mental health and gender-based violence,
3. Menstruation, and
4. Reproductive health.
In collaboration with Niramaya Health Foundation as an implementation partner, to date, the program has trained nearly 100 Champions and worked with over 750 adolescent girls in Mumbai.