[part-2] INDIA’S HEALTH POLICY


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Child welfare programmes

   Several Ministries and Departments of the government of India are implementing various schemes and programmes for the benefit of children.  Some of the Schemes and programmes are as under:

      “Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) being implemented by Ministry of Women and Child Development is the world’s largest programme aimed at enhancing the health, nutrition and learning opportunities of infants, young children (O-6 years) and their mothers.  It is the foremost symbol of India’s commitment to its children – India’s response to the challenge of providing pre school education on one hand and breaking the vicious cycle of malnutrition, mortality and morbidity o the other.”

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      The Scheme provides an integrated approach for converging basic services through community based workers and helpers.  The services are provided at a Centre called the ‘Anganwadi’, which literally means a courtyard play center, a childcare center located within the village itself.  The package of services provided are:

  • Supplementary nutrition,
  • Immunization,
  • Health check-up
  • Referral services,
  • Pre-school non-formal education and
  • Nutrition and health education

It is a centrally sponsored scheme implemented through the State Governments with 100% financial assistance from the Central Government for all inputs other than supplementary nutrition which the States were to provide from their own resources.  However, from the year 2005-06, the Government of India has decided to provide Central assistance to States for supplementary nutrition also to the extent of 50% of the actual expenditure incurred by States or 50% of the cost norms, whichever is less.

Crèche Scheme for the children of working mothers

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            The Ministry of Women and Child Development has launched a new Crèche Scheme in January 2006.  The Scheme has been named as Rajiv Gandhi National Crèche Scheme for the Children of working Mothers.  These crèches have been allocated to the Central Social Welfare Board, Indian Council for Child Welfare and Bhartiya Adim Jati Sevak Sangh in the ration of 80:11:9.  The priority has been given to uncovered districts/areas and tribal areas while extending the scheme to maintain balance regional coverage.  Eligibility criteria under the Revised Scheme has also been enhanced from Rs. 1800/- to Rs. 12000/- per month per family.

Nutrition component of Prime Minister Gramodya Yojana and Nutrition Programme for Adolescent Girls being implemented in 51 districts with additional central assistance provided by the Planning commission, directly and indirectly contribute to promoting nutrition of children.  A National Nutrition Mission has also been set up with a view to enable policy direction to concerned Departments of the Government for addressing the problem of malnutrition in a mission mode.

Reproductive and Child Health Programme

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            Being implemented by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the programme provides effective maternal and child health care, micronutrient interventions for vulnerable groups, reproductive health services for adolescent etc.  Some important programmes cover

  • immunization for children for DTP, Polio and Tetanus Toxoid for  women
  • Vitamin A administration
  • Iron and folic Acid for pregnant women.

This programme integrates all family welfare and women and child health services with the explicit objective of providing beneficiaries with ‘need based, client centered, demand driven, and high quality integrated RCH services’.  The strategy for the RCH programme shifts the policy emphasis from achieving demographic targets to meeting the health needs of women and children.Pulse Polio Immunization Programme being implemented by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare covers all children blow five years.  It is a massive programme covers 166 million children in every round of National Immunization Day. The other immunization programmes include Hepatitis B, DPT and other routine immunization.

      Other notable programmes for child health include, Universal immunization programme, control of deaths due to acute respiratory infections, control of diarrheal diseases, provision of essential new-born care to address the issue of the neonates, prophylactic programmes for the prevention and treatment of two micronutrient deficiencies relating to Vitamin A and iron, Anemia control programme, Border District Cluster Strategy and Integrated Management of Neo-natal and childhood illness.

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan being implemented by the Department of Education provides for school infrastructure and quality improvement in education of the children.  The specific objectives are,

  • All children to be in school
  • Universal retention by 2010
  • Bridging all gender and social gaps at primary stage by 2007 and at elementary education level by 2010.

The Government of India is committed to realizing the goal of universalization of elementary education by 2010.  Under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the National flagship programme, the Government aims to provide free and compulsory elementary education to all children in the 6-14 age group by 2010.

A National Programme for education of girls at elementary level is also being implemented by the Department of Education for children in difficult circumstances including drop out girls, working girls, girls from marginalized social groups, girls with low levels of achievement to gain quality elementary education and to develop self esteem of girls through a community based approach.

Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya is a new scheme being implemented by the Department of Education, which enables opening of 750 special residential schools for the girl child belonging to SC/ST, other backward classes and minority in educationally backward blocks having low female literacy.

Mid-day meal Scheme is also one of the important schemes of the Government to aim universal enrollment and retention of children. Under the programmed nutrition snacks are provided to children attending schools.

Integrated programme for Street Children

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      The programme is being implemented by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.  This programme aims at preventing destitution of children and facilitate their withdrawal from life on the streets.  The programme is targeted towards children without homes and family ties, especially vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

Integrated Programme for Juvenile Justice

      The programme is being implemented by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment with a view to providing carte to children in difficult circumstances and children in conflict with the law through Government institutions and through NGOs.  Some special features of the scheme areas:

  • Establishment of a National Advisory Board on Juvenile Justice.
  • Creation of a Juvenile Justice Fund.
  • Training, orientation and sensitization of judicial, administrative police and NGOs responsible for implementation of JJ Act.
  • Institutional are shall be used but only as a last measure by enlarging the range of suitable alternatives.
  • Financial assistance to bring about a qualitative improvement in the existing infrastructure.
  • Expansion of non-institutional services such as sponsorship, foster care, probation etc. as and an alternate to institutional care.

Child helpline child helpline is a toll free telephone service (1098) which anyone can call for assistance in the interest of children. Being run with the support of Women and child welfare Ministry is working in 72 cities across the country.  The Shishu Greh Scheme is also being implemented by the ministry to promote adoptions within the country and to ensure minimum standards in the care of abandoned/orphaned/destitute children.  Grant-in-Aid upto a ceiling of Rs. 6 lakh is provided per unit of 10 children in a Shishu Greh.

The National Rural Health Mission, a scheme of health Ministry seeks to provide effective healthcare to rural population including large population of children throughout the country with special focus on 18 States, which have weak public health indicators and/or raise public spending on health from 0.9% of GDP to 2-3% of GDP.  It aims to undertake architectural correction of the health system to enable it to effectively handle increased allocations as promised under the National Common Minimum Programme and promote policies that strengthen public health management and service delivery in the country.

Elimination of Child Labour is being implemented by the Ministry of Labour which sanctions projects for rehabilitation of working children and for elimination of child labour.  Under the project based Action Plan of the Policy, National Child Labour Projects (NCLPs) have been set up in different areas to rehabilitate child labour.  A major activity undertaken under the NCLP is the establishment of special schools to provide non-formal education, vocational training, supplementary nutrition etc. to children withdrawn from employment.  150 Child Labour Projects have so far been sanctioned for rehabilitating children in the most endemic areas and 1.5 lakh children have already been mainstreamed in the special schools.

Prevention of Offences against Children

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            After wide consultations a draft Bill for offences Against Children has been prepared and circulated to the State Governments for their comments and views.  After obtaining the comments of the State governments and concerned Ministries and Departments a draft has bee prepared and circulated to the concerned Ministries and Departments for their comments and use.

Child Budgeting

            The Government is also actively considering introducing child budgeting.  The key objectives of the endeavor would be analyze budgetary provisions on social sector, to identify the magnitude of budgetary allocations made by the Centre/State Governments on schemes meant for addressing specific needs of children, to examine the trend in child specific expenditure etc.  the main agenda for the exercise of child budgeting is to review resource allocations related to children; explore ways to increase budgetary allocations for children; assess budget utilization rates for social sector and child specific programmes, identify blockages and constraints to effective utilization; identify methods for tracking expenditure and monitoring performance to ensure that outlays translate into outcomes for children.

Team Aspirant Forum

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