Empowering field functionaries to save lives
Purulia district, West Bengal: Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illness (IMNCI) is a comprehensive strategy which is empowering field functionaries to save lives of young infants and under five children. This is being implemented by the district health and family welfare department with support from UNICEF in Purulia district of West Bengal.
‘Based on signs and symptoms of sick children who come to my Anganwadi centre, I am confident that I will be able to classify them into red, yellow and green cases and advise the parents accordingly’ says Urbashi Kumar an Anganwadi worker from Chekya IV village of the Jhalda II block in Purulia district.
She clarifies that if the sick child is in red category, she will refer the child to the hospital after giving the first dose. If in yellow, she will provide the parents with medicine and information on how they can give the medicine at home.
IMNCI will help improve the quality of care for new born and sick children in the district. It also focuses on strengthening home based care and provides special attention to under-nourished children. Training is one of the key components of the IMNCI intervention.
The parents of children in green category would need advice and counseling for home treatment.
Urvashi is one of the 24 participants in the 38th batch of skills based training being imparted to the field functionaries as part of the rollout of IMNCI strategy in Purulia district.
Her colleague at the training Seema Gorai, a female multi-purpose worker finds this training quite useful. She says it is like a tool in her hand which will help to save lives of little ones. She finds role plays and the hands-on aspect of the training interesting.
Implementation of child care services, strengthening health systems including the referral chain and promoting positive practices at family and community levels are the other components of IMNCI which make it an inclusive approach for child and newborn care.
As part of the training which is ongoing in Purulia, UNICEF provides the participants with a training kit which they use at the training and retain for use in the field.
The training kit consists of chart booklet, training module, assessment form, photo booklet, digital watch to monitor breath count, clipboard etc.
One of the master trainers, Dr. Kunal Kanti Majumdar says that the training has helped in increasing referrals and more importantly, field functionaries are able to guide the sick child to ‘right place at the right time’.
Many child deaths are preventable if the danger signs are detected on time and appropriate referrals made. IMNCI is a positive step towards early detection of sickness and treatment, said Dr. Majumdar.
Dr. Kaninika Mitra, Health Specialist with UNICEF West Bengal, adds that IMNCI is building capacity of ground level functionaries so that they are able to assess and manage sick children as well as provide quality care to newborns.
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