Popular UNICEF ambassador Amitabh Bachchan has been championing the Pulse Polio drive to free India of polio, the last case for which was reported in January 2011. “Hours and hours of work, through the years, has finally resulted in an outcome of which I feel so proud,” Bachchan wrote on his blog, after India didn’t report any polio cases for two years.
After the hugely-successful talkshow Satyamev Jayate, in which Aamir Khan focussed attention on socially-relevant issues troubling India, UNICEF and Ministry for Women and Child Development made him the face of a campaign to ‘Free India from Malnutrition’ (Kuposhan Bharat Chodho).
As part of the campaign, Aamir is appearing in 40 advertisement videos in 18 languages. “Almost every second child in our country is stunted because of chronic malnutrition. As a nation we aspire to be a superpower, but that won’t happen unless we fight to give our children a healthy life,” he said.
Glamour girl Priyanka Chopra has been busy raising health and hygiene awareness among adolescent girls over the past year. She is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Child Rights and focuses on the girl child, including foeticide — sex-selective abortion of female foetuses in the womb — that has skewed India’s sex ratio to favour boys.
There are 914 girls per 1,000 boys in the 0-6 age group, shows the 2011 Census data, which means many young men won’t find brides in the near future.
Dirty Picture star Vidya Balan is the “brand ambassador” of the Centre’s sanitation programme to end open defecation. “We are working on a national movement... It needs to become a national obsession,” said Balan, who has appeared in ads educating the rural population on sanitation.
Health and Education
Salman Khan’s non-profit organisation Being Human (BH) raises funds for education and healthcare of the underprivileged. Last year, Fortis Foundation joined hands with BH to provide free treatment to children with congenital heart defects. BH also organises free eye camps.
Handwashing to lower diarrhoeal deaths
The newest to join the Causeratti club is Kajol, who is cajoling children across India to wash their hands several times a day to protect themselves from infections. The ‘Help A Child Reach 5’ campaign she supports aims to lower diarrhoeal deaths, a leading killer of children under 5 years. The campaign has adopted a village in Madhya Pradesh called Thesgora, which has the highest diarrhoeal deaths in India.
“Diarrhoea and pneumonia are top two killers and many kids die for lack of basic hygiene. These are preventable diseases. You only have to ensure to wash with soap before you eat, cook, feed your kids and after going to the washroom,” said Kajol, seemingly oblivious to the fact that 73% people defecate in the open and have never been to a washroom.