Jaimun Khatun's half-pill of trust and remedy
By Paromita Ukil
28 March 2006: Forty-year old Jaimun Khatun, an anganwadi worker, considers herself to be fortunate that her work requires her to be with children. She lives in Chatwal village in Jharkhand's Ranchi district where her work requires her to weigh children, feed them and give them their first lessons in education.
In May last year, she underwent an "unusual" training which, she was told, would help her in saving children's lives by detecting early signs of distress. By October, she had already helped save the lives of two infants in her village apart from contributing to the well-being of the 50 under-five children in her village. The eight-day training course – the Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illnesses (IMNCI) she attended has equipped her with the knowledge that makes it possible for her to take those steps which help save lives. UNICEF State Representative Bijaya Rajbhandari says, "Parents and community-level workers are united in their concern for children but often do not know what to do and when”
The IMNCI training started in Ranchi district of Jharkhand in 2005, and will be imparted to all the 20 blocks of Ranchi by mid-2007. Simultaneously, it has also been started in East Singhbhum, the district where UNICEF is piloting the "convergence" approach. Health and anganwadi workers who have been trained (in Ranchi district) are using it for the well-being of children).
Jaimun recalls the two cases vividly. The first case was of a severely underweight infant. "I guided the mother to breastfeed the baby soon after birth and to hold it close to herself so that the child was warm," she says. The child survived, and is growing up to be healthy and strong.
The second case was of one-month-old Chandni, whose festering red umbilicus had not fallen off. Jaimun gave Chandni half a tablet of co-trimoxazole mixed in her mother’s milk. This was repeated and little Chandni was brought back from infection that could have turned serious. “It was because of the training that I reacted the way I did to Chandni’s pus-laden, red umbilicus," she says.
"Chandni’s mother brought her to the centre for BCG vaccination. The little girl was a month old. The umbilicus should have fallen off two weeks ago, I calculated. The ANM and I examined her infection. We did not have any medicine supply at that time. We tried the violet solution,” said Jaimun, “though we both knew co-trimoxazole would work better under the circumstances."
Jaimun took out a tablet from her bag and broke it in half. She asked Christina to mix haf a tablet with little of her own milk . Then she fished out a spoon from her bag and gave it to Christina so that she could feed the solution to little Chandni (Jaimun had remembered to keep the teaspoon in her bag because she knew Christina’s humble collection of aluminium and earthen pots would not have a spoon). Jaimun repeated the dose after two days. At the end of the week, the umbilicus fell off and soon there was no trace of any infection.