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World Health Day - April 7


Make every mother and child count

Every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrates the World Health Day (WHD), on April 7, commemorating the anniversary of its founding in 1948. This Day provides a forum for discussion on various health challenges worldwide. Each year, a new focus is selected to highlight a health issue of global concern.

Health is more than the absence of disease. It is a state of optimal well being.

The slogan for World Health Day 2005 is "Make every mother and child count". It reflects the reality that to­day the health of women and children is not a high enough priority for many governments and the interna­tional community.

Nearly half a million women die during pregnancy and childbirth each year. Dr Prem N Sheth, leading consultant neonatologist and pediatrician, says, "about 11 million children die globally before celebrating their fIfth birthday; of these four million children die in the developing countries with India account­ing for 97 per cent of these deaths. While in developed countries, the mortality rate is four to five per 1,000 live births, the cor­responding figure in the developing coun­tries is 50 to 70 per 1000 live births!"

In India, childbearing is concentrated mainly in the age group of 15-29 years. Pregnancy in the early teens interrupts the physiological growth of the mother. It can result in difficult labour; increase the chances of premature delivery and low birthweight babies, which further leads to higher neonatal and infant mortality.

It is estimated that there are nearly 75 million malnourished children below the age of 5 years in India. It is estimated that, 53 per cent of all children less than four years are underweight and an equal proportion is underdeveloped, while 21- 29 per cent of children suffer from severe forms of malnutrition. Inadequate purchasing power of the family and lack of knowledge are responsible for the various nutritional problems.

Dr Sudha Sheth, senior gynecologist says, "adolescent girls are highly susceptible to anemia, which is responsible for miscarriage, still births, premature births, low birth-weight babies and maternal mortality during child birth. Anemia and bleeding during child birth are the major causes in a large number of maternal deaths."

Adequate attention towards mother and child would defmitely have a positive influence on health of the en­tire future generation. Dr Sheth believes, "Lack of proper ante natal care and unattended deliveries contribute to the high maternal mortality and morbidity. Prolonged labour, improper delivery techniques, unrecognised dif­ficult pregnancies and birth injuries or birth hypoxia can affect the mother and the new born adversely."

Health services should begin at the time of conception. It should relate to the physical, mental and emotional health of women immediately and of infants and young children at all stages. Prenatal supervision helps to avoid, prevent, recog­nise and treat complications of pregnancy. Read on Pregnancy (postpartum) Depression

Intranatal services provide skilled care and attention by trained midwives during childbirth. Postnatal checks on the moth­er's health include family planning serv­ices and guidance from a gynecologist to diagnose and prevent some of the chronic and disabling conditions.

Child health services aim for the prevention of acute illness and disease that has the potential to disrupt the child's early years. Childhood immunisation, health education about subjects like hygiene, oral rehydration and nutrition awareness will help to de­crease infant mortality. Read on Childhood Depression

As we move on in the 21st century; towards becoming an industrial and economic power, we must remember that India essentially lives in rural areas. As Dr Sushil Shah, pathologist and chairman of one of the leading laboratories succinctly put it," Communities need to be proactive towards nutrition, immunisation programs, maternal and child health care, the prevention of food adulteration and maintenance of water quality; supply .and sanitation, prevention and control of endemic diseases etc."

Mother and child health care does not call for any ma­jor investment; it only requires the right attitude and prioritisation.

Article on Wellness - The NEW AGE MANTRA

Puerperal Psychosis - Puerperal psychosis is an acute mental illness, which has a sudden onset within the first few weeks (usually the first 10 days) following childbirth.

Adolescent Depression

Sometimes crying or laughing
are the only options left,
and laughing feels better right now.

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