Healthy Child Week in Taza Baz
NUKUS, Uzbekistan, 29 June 2012. - UNICEF and the Ministry of Health piloted an integrated package of health and nutrition services to improve the health of children in Karakalpakstan, one of the most economically and environmentally disadvantaged regions of the country.
In the last week of June nicknamed ‘Healthy Child Week’, more than 160,000 children in the six months to five years age group were able to benefit from a package of primary health care services which included a general medical check-up for children, measurement of their weight and height for growth assessment, and Vitamin A and deworming tablets distribution. Mothers were counseled on optimal nutrition, proper sanitation and hygiene practices.
District level health managers, paediatricians and patronage nurses of more than 200 primary healthcare facilities were involved and benefited from trainings organized with UNICEF support ahead of the Week. UNICEF provided technical assistance in the procurement and administration of more than 5.6 million doses of vitamin A and 300 thousand deworming tablets (Mebendazole). UNICEF also supported the Ministry of Health with communication materials highlighting the importance of an integrated approach to child survival, health, nutrition and hygiene.
The emphasis on social mobilization and inter-personal communication contributed to demand creation for the services offered. Service providers interacted with young mothers and gave them time to ask questions and clarify doubts. Families got handy booklets with essential information on child health and wellbeing from the staff at health facilities or from ‘patronage nurses’ during home visits. This colourful booklet that unfolds like a long accordion doubles up as a measuring tool for children’s height – a simple way to monitor growth at home.
The official launch of the Week in ‘Taza Baz’ rural health point in Khojayli district was attended by officials and representatives from the Ministry of Health of Karakalpakstan as well as the central government. The mass media and local organisations created a buzz around the ‘Healthy Child Week’ and brought home the importance of a ‘preventive’ approach to children’s health.
“Providing health services in one integrated package is convenient and beneficial to both families and medical workers, particularly when we think of children in remote locations in our region who need to be reached. It is also cost-effective and saves a lot of time”, says Gulchekhra Eshniyazova, Chief Paediatrician of Karakalpakstan.