15th October 2021
Vikramgad is a taluka in the Palghar District of Maharashtra. Primarily consisting of the Warli Tribe, a general phobia about various health issues has prevailed in the villages of Vikramgad along with increasing cases of severe malnutrition being reported extensively since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Learning of the situation here through an article in the Loksatta by Mr. Neeraj Raut, KAASH Foundation decided to help and support the already existing resource mechanisms to tackle malnutrition. However, before planning any initiative, it was necessary for the KAASH Foundation Team to understand the crux of the situation. And therefore, a joint meeting between the members of KAASH Foundation and the local administrative staff, anganwadi assistants and program officers was scheduled. Through the meeting, the members of KAASH Foundation were made aware of the following things:
- The community’s first response system with respect to health is a local bhagat and not certified doctors.
- They believe in curing ailments through naturopathy as instructed by the And therefore, alternative therapy camps, naturopathy camps would work in the region to increase awareness about health.
- Malnutrition is prevalent in the region and is affected by a deep seated community fear for cesarean and therefore, pregnant women do not eat well since they believe a heavy fetus will lead to a cesarean surgery. This leads to severely underweight children at birth. While the accepted weight range for newborns is 3 – 3.35 kgs, the average weight at birth in these villages is 1.75 – 2.25 kgs.
- Since cesarean and hospital deliveries are forbidden, many women opt for normal deliveries at home.
- To combat this issue, food is being distributed amongst pregnant women and children but is consumed by the whole family.
After discussing these issues, it was suggested that the 304 anganwadis and 1100 bhagats in these areas can act as nodes of interventions. They could be trained on how to tackle malnutrition through their very own resources and natural consumption patterns. Additionally, it was realized that the women and children in this vicinity require good health and care along with adequate nutritious provisions.
Furtheron, the KAASH Foundation Team met with women and children to conduct the Health Awareness Camp; to promote Naturopathy and Sujok Therapy, and to offer on-the-spot treatment and consultation. The Team also organized a festive lunch for them and distributed chikkis made of jaggery and groundnut.
On an all encompassing note, this initiative fostered a need to further tackle the issue of malnutrition in the region and KAASH Foundation wishes to join forces with similar individuals/organizations in its future endeavours at Vikramgad.