Pregnant, lactating mothers to get Rs 5,000 maternity benefits

The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) set up its Health & Nutrition Helpline, ‘Sehat evam Poshan Saathi’ to ensure that all children under six years of age are provided with nutritional supplements and regular immunisation doses and all pregnant and lactating mothers receive maternity benefits of Rs. 5000 under PMMVY scheme, adequate nutrition and care under Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY).

The Helpline was launched by Hon’ble Minister of Women & Child Development, GNCTD, Shri Rajendra Pal Gautam at Delhi Secretariat.

Launching the Helpline, Rajendra Pal Gautam, WCD Minister said: “There are many schemes being run by the government for pregnant women and for welfare of children from 0-6 years, but the major problem arises when these schemes are not able to reach beneficiaries in time. If we can overcome these barriers, many women and children can be saved from severe health issues. He committed to reduce malnutrition and stunting by half by 2022. ”

Anurag Kundu, Chairperson, DCPCR narrated his own anganwadi experiences, and drew from his early childhood how transformational anganwadis can be. He lamented that much of the ills that we witness in the school system i.e low learning outcomes, drop-out, and poor cognitive performance is rooted in brain development in early years which is contingent on nourishment and happy experiences. He explained: “The Helpline works in a way that the caller will give a missed call on 011-41193903 and counsellors will get back to them to verify details of caller and address, followed by resolution of their grievances.”

The Helpline Number 011-41193903 shall remain operational 24*7 in collaboration with NGO Indus Action and once a missed call is received on the number, within 1-2 days, the team at the DCPCR shall connect back and register the grievance, which shall be resolved subsequently.

The Helpline is the first-of-its-kind initiative all over India and Delhi is the first state/UT to undertake it. The World Bank, in its report, ‘India’s Undernourished Children: A Call for Reform and Action’, in 2005, highlighted multiple operational challenges, loopholes in proper implementation and weak monitoring & evaluation, resulting in ineffectiveness of ICDS.

Similarly, there have been many challenges with PMMVY, leading to inadequate trickling down of benefits to the pregnant &/ lactating mothers. Thus, this helpline is the need of the hour and aims to bridge the gap between policy intention and policy implementation.

Health and nutrition of children under six and pregnant/lactating mothers is a key priority area of the DCPCR. Last month, the DCPCR constituted Vidhan Sabha Monitoring Committees in all the 70 Legislative Assembly Constituencies of NCT of Delhi, which shall primarily support Anganwadi workers in identifying beneficiaries for ICDS and PMMVY, monitor distribution of ICDS nutrition supplements & immunisation of children besides providing assistance in closing the digital literacy divide to ensure efficient functioning. Moreover, counsellors from Delhi Social Welfare Board will be providing support and capacity-building for the same.

The launch was followed by a panel discussion on ‘First 2000 Days of Child’s Life”.

The discussion involved different stakeholders such as Rashmi Singh (Director, Department of Women & Child Development, GNCTD); Monica Rana (Director, Family Welfare, GNCTD); Anurag Kundu (Chairperson, DCPCR) and Sunita Kambhoj (Anganwadi Worker, Trilokpuri). Tarun Cherukuri (Founder & CEO, Indus Action) moderated the discussion.

Through the panel discussion, several short-term and long-term goals were identified including need for developing a robust monitoring mechanism for Anganwadis along with effective communication with registered beneficiaries; formation of women collectives & community hubs for enhanced awareness generation among women and families; strengthening data analytics & sharing at department devel etc.