Community-based management of severe acute malnutrition
NGO: Swasthya Swaraj Society
The Kalahandi district of Odisha has historically been one of the most underserved regions in India: 50% of under-five children in the region are underweight, 60% have stunted growth, and 20% are severely malnourished. Swasthya Swaraj provides much-needed healthcare services in 76 villages in the tribal-dominated Thuamul Rampur Block. Through this project, the organization aims to provide community-based therapeutic care to children affected by severe acute malnutrition by setting up village nutrition centers. They also focus on the prevention of severe malnutrition through community-based interventions and awareness campaigns with the involvement of trained health workers and local volunteers. Bringing health care facilities is vital to such inaccessible locations, which are practically areas ‘where no doctor has gone before’.
- Swasthya Swaraj runs health centers at Kaniguma village and Kerpai village; in total, they provide services to people from more than 180 villages. The health centers provide 24×7 care, including medical emergencies, deliveries, newborn care, minor medical and surgical procedures, and outpatient services. The health centers are venues for training and ongoing education programmes for grassroot level workers (Swasthya sathis and Shikhya sathis), field animators, community nurses, staff nurses, lab technicians, and medical students.
- Swasthya Swaraj Society’s strategy for tackling malnutrition includes:
- Organize regular outreach clinics, targeting pregnant women and under-five children who are unable to walk long distances to reach the health centers. Conduct clinics once every two months in eight different locations.
- Focus on decentralised approach to therapeutic management through nutrition rehabilitation centers.So far, progress has begun on clinics in eight locations. The centers will be known as Gaon Poshana Gharos (Village Nutrition Centers) and will be run with the help of community nurses, Swasthya sathis, field animators, and mothers’ club members.
- Use the outreach clinics to monitor the health of children under five and detect cases of malnutrition. Provide both immediate and subsequent care at the village nutrition centers and provide intensive care at the health centers.
- Swasthya Swaraj Society also coordinates community-based malaria and TB control.