Anganwadi is an Indian government-sponsored village-level child-care and maternal-care development project that began on October 2, 1975. The country is attempting to achieve its objective of delivering inexpensive and accessible healthcare to local communities through the Anganwadi system. It’s an element of the Indian healthcare system. Their centers may be utilized as depots for oral dehydration salts, basic medications and contraception. A thorough bundle of prepared meals and dry supplies was also proposed by Anganwadi. It was started by the Indian government. To tackle child hunger and malnutrition, the Integrated Child Development Services program was established in 1975. Since a child’s health and nutrition needs are intertwined with those of his or her mother, the program includes adolescent girls, pregnant women, and nursing moms.
Services Provided by Anganwadi Centers:
In the state, Anganwadi presently provides six services. Three of the six services, including immunization, health check-ups, and referral services, are provided through the state’s existing public health infrastructure.
- Supplementary Nutrition: It entails supplementary feeding as well as growth tracking and promotion. To identify children under the age of six, pregnant and nursing moms, all households in the neighborhood are questioned. They provide supplementary nutrition assistance for 300 days every year. The Anganwadi seeks to bridge the caloric gap between the national recommended and average intake of children and women in low-income and disadvantaged communities by providing supplementary meals. One of their main goals is to supplement protein and calories to enhance the nutritional and health condition of children under the age of six and mothers (pregnant and in the first six months of nursing).
- Health Examination: This covers health care for children under the age of six, as well as prenatal and postnatal care for expecting women and nursing mothers. Regular health check-ups, weight recording, vaccination, management of malnutrition, treatment of diarrhea, and provision of basic medications are among the several health services offered for children by Anganwadi workers and Primary Health Center (PHC) staff.
- Immunization: It protects children from six vaccine-preventable diseases: poliomyelitis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, TB, and measles when given to pregnant women and babies. These are the leading causes of child mortality, disability, illness, and malnutrition. Tetanus vaccination for pregnant women minimizes maternal and neonatal mortality.
- Services for Referrals: Sick or malnourished children in need of immediate medical assistance are sent to the Primary Health Center or its sub-center during health check-ups and growth monitoring. The Anganwadi worker has also received training in detecting impairments in children under the age of five. They keeps track of all such instances in a separate file and recommends them to the medical officer at the Primary Health Center/Sub-center for further treatment.
- Health and Nutrition Education: This is a crucial aspect of the Anganwadi worker’s job. This is part of the BCC approach (Behavior Change Communication). The long-term objective is to strengthen the ability of women. They target people between the ages of 15 and 45 so that they may look after their own health, nutrition, and development, as well as the requirements of their children and families.
- Non-Formal Preschool Education: Preschool education is the most enjoyable daily activity and it is also important, visible for four hours each day. It brings and retains small children at the Anganwadi Center, which is a motivating activity for parents and communities. Preschool education in Integrated Child Development Services’ (ICDS) focuses on the whole development of the child from birth to age six, with a concentration on children from low-Income families. It focuses on creating and guaranteeing a natural, pleasant, and stimulating environment for children aged three to six, with a concentration on the required inputs for optimal growth and development. The ICDS’s early learning component is a critical component in laying a solid foundation for lifetime learning and development.
Importance of Anganwadi:
- Malnutrition Elimination: Anganwadis are critical to the ICDS program’s success. It meets the nutritional, health, and pre-educational needs of children up to the age of six, as well as women’s and teenage girls’ health and nutrition.
- Community Mobilization and Local Connect: They know and are comfortable with the local language and customs, are familiar with the people. These workers can be trusted since they are locals. They also have greater social skills, making it easier for them to engage with the locals.
- Providing healthcare that is both economical and convenient: As previously stated, the nation is attempting to achieve its aim of delivering inexpensive and accessible healthcare to local communities through the Anganwadi system. They are the most critical and sometimes overlooked component in India’s healthcare system.
- Ensure primary healthcare and education: They provide children with primary healthcare and education. They ensure the emancipation of the entire community by educating rural women and children.
Issues Related with Anganwadi:
- Inadequate Learning Conditions: Only a tiny fraction of AWCs provide creches and other high-quality recreational and learning facilities for pre-school education, and in others, if such exist, employees are unwilling to use them. They don’t appear to create an atmosphere that encourages parents to leave their children at these facilities.
- Education and Training Deficits: The majority of these workers are illiterate and have poor skills. They discover that weighing a youngster rather than doing other measurements makes it easier to keep track of their progress.
- Child beneficiaries’ growth charts aren’t kept up to date: The measurements of the child’s size must then be put on a growth chart. This is crucial because it can detect early changes in a child’s development, but it is lacking in Anganwadi.
- Insufficient funds: Low honoraria, insufficient funding for salt Jaggery veggies, transportation and gasoline, and a lack of coordination were the most serious issues highlighted.
With the perspective that the future of India is the future of the children, the Department is putting more attention and making much-needed tangible measures. These efforts are focused on putting all existing government policies and programs for children’s welfare and development into action, which is an investment in their total socioeconomic progress. The Union government has made a number of efforts to improve Anganwadi services across the country. These efforts include the adjustment of supplemental nutrition cost guidelines, as well as the development of Anganwadi Centers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). It is the provision of drinking water and sanitation facilities at AWCs as part of the Swachhta Action Plan (SAP), among other things, that will aid in socioeconomic development.
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