J&K Wins Praise For Healthcare Services During Pandemic

An elderly woman takes shot of Covid-19 vaccine in Tosa Maidan meadow in central Kashmir’s Budgam district |KO file photo by Abid Bhat

UT Had 100% Functional Community Health Centres, Sub-Centres During Covid-19: NITI Aayog

Srinagar- With Jammu & Kashmir Administration’s overarching motivation and constant focus to prioritize effective healthcare, a new report from Government of India has observed that J&K had 100 percent functional Community Health Centers(CHC) and sub-centres in the Covid-19 pandemic times.

The report, by the Indian Government’s Think Tank Niti Aayog, outlines India’s progress on the center’s flagship Poshan Abhiyan and assesses the implementation of the key inputs and services. It found a marked spike in the utilization of funds between financial year 2017-18 and 2019-20 in J&K.

As per report, J&K had utilized less than 20 percent of funds from 2017-18 to 2018-19. However, the cumulative funds being utilized in J&K for Poshan Abhiyaan increased to over 40 percent in the financial year 2019-20.

In terms of Governance and institutional mechanism, which captures components like fund utilization and constitution of committees and resource groups to develop and follow Convergence Action Plan (CAP), J&K was among top UTs that scored 10 points or more, the report observed. J&K was also among the UTs where all districts developed and submitted CAP for Financial year 2020-21.

In 2018, the Government of India launched its flagship programme, the POSHAN (Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment) Abhiyaan, to draw national attention to and take action against malnutrition, in a mission-mode.

POSHAN Abhiyaan is the Government of India’s flagship programme to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers, and adolescents. The Abhiyaan is a multi-ministerial convergence mission with the vision to accelerate India’s progress on malnutrition, in a time bound manner with fixed targets.

The report also says that J&K has been ranked fourth among Union Territories in terms of the overall implementation of the Poshan Abhiyan at the National level in 2020. The maximum score given is 100 and UT’s score has settled over 70.

However, when it comes to Women and Child Development, J&K has scored only 7 points, lowest among UTs, in the statewide scores for programme activities and intervention coverage. Among UTs, the lowest Take-Home Ration (THR) coverage was also recorded in Jammu and Kashmir where only 49 percent pregnant women, 51 percent lactating women, and 54 percent children were covered under the scheme.

“It is imperative to examine the reasons for low coverage of THR and growth monitoring. States and UTs should assess whether the gaps in THR coverage pertain to supply chain issues or are a result of demand-side challenges. For growth monitoring, states should review if there are gaps in staff training on measuring children, availability of supplies or in community awareness to avail the service, and identify appropriate solutions,” the report said.

The report, while citing pandemic woes, said when compared with the pre-pandemic period, the number of pregnant women who received four or more antenatal care check-ups reduced in most States and UTs (30 out of 35 States/UTs) . “The coverage remained low in Goa, Manipur, Nagaland, Chandigarh, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir,” said the report.

According to the analysis, the number of institutional deliveries conducted (including C-section) reduced in most States and UTs (32 out of 35 States/UTs) compared with the pre-pandemic period. “However, in June-September 2020, there was an improvement in 29 States and UTs, which experienced a reduction in the previous quarter. Among these, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Jammu and Kashmir were able to restore to the pre-pandemic level,” the report noted.

The report also says that there are 6198 malnourished children in J&K. Besides that, only 65% percent of pregnant women were given 180-Iron & Folic Acid (IFA) tablets and only 3 percent of 5-9 years children were given weekly IFA tablets. However, as per report, 100 percent of lactating women were given 180 IFA Tablets in J&K.

Pertinently, at national level, with 98 percent, J&K was ranked second in the category of home visits to households with pregnant mothers to counsel on appropriate measures. But, the UT was ranked lowest in the category of children (0-59 months) reported with diarrhea cases and treated with ORS & Zinc, as only 29 percent of children had received the necessary care.

This is the fourth progress report on POSHAN Abhiyaan which assesses the progress of POSHAN Abhiyaan implementation, analyses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nutrition and health services and provides insights on service delivery restorations and adaptations and other related needs across India.

The report presents key recommendations to deepen India’s efforts to tackle malnutrition, especially in the context of COVID-19. Pertinently, the report also highlights five key lessons learned by the implementation of POSHAN Abhiyaan over the last three years, including following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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