Stories from the Field:
Improving Women’s Health in India

A program to teach young mothers better nutrition

Recently, we got an update on a project CNEWA has been supporting in India: a community health program for better mother and child care. To date, it has benefitted 587 families in 10 villages. Our regional director for India, M.L. Thomas, offered additional details:

This project was to support tribal women, to help them understand how to care for themselves and their children, through low cost nutrition and immunizations. It was done in the Darbha block at Bastar District.

Many health issues were identified, particularly anemia and malnutrition. Eight staff members, including a qualified nurse, were engaged in this project.

It was noted that the major problem in this area was malnutrition among children and among pregnant and lactating mothers.

A major concern is a lack of knowledge about diet. Many families have very limited diets with low nutritional content. Mothers are anemic, children are malnourished and the general health of the family is poor. Awareness classes were given to the families on the positive effects of dietary supplements to improve overall health.

About 260 mothers benefitted from this program. A total of 10 training sessions were conducted.

In addition, health camps were conducted in 10 villages. About 800 people took part. We were able to detect anemia in pregnant women, along with some skin diseases, high blood pressure, pneumonia, malaria and tuberculosis. A doctor from the government’s medical college came to assist and give classes.

Most of the families, we learned, were following the wrong customs and beliefs about the kinds of foods pregnant women should eat. (An example: due to some local customs, pregnant women are often not allowed to appear before others and are often forced to eat less.) The awareness programs helped them to understand the importance of eating well, especially when pregnant or lactating.

In villages, mothers often will decline to nurse their newborn children, because of a mistaken belief it is unhealthy. Classes were organized to correct that misunderstanding and promote correct feeding practices from the first day of birth.

We remain grateful to all who have supported our important efforts in India and elsewhere, as we work to help some of the poorest in our world live healthier and happier lives — giving dignity and hope to so many who have only known hardship. Thank you and God bless you!

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