Jalandhar health department fails to launch 'MAA' scheme, wakes up after higher officials seek report
In a clear example of apathetic attitude, the district health department has failed to launch a national health programme here which was started by the Union ministry of health and family welfare in August 2016.
The health scheme, Mothers Absolute Affection (MAA), is dedicated towards the promotion of breastfeeding. Shockingly, the local health officials came to know about the programme only after the state department sought a report about the activities carried under the programme in district. After waking up from deep slumber, the officials started dialling to their colleagues in nearby districts and others to inquire about the said programme.
Then in hurry-scurry to respond to the higher authorities and save their skin, officials immediately traced the ‘MAA posters’ from the store room and workers pasted them outside the labour room in the civil hospital and other health institutions of the district.
When quizzed as why the district has not launched the programme, the civil surgeon Dr Maninder Minhas told HT that the programme is being launched in phases and first it was started in Mohali. She said, “ The accredited social health activists (ASHA) workers usually create awareness about the importance of breastfeeding to new mothers,”
While state director family and health welfare, Dr Dharam Pal said, “It was not in phase manner and the programme commenced collectively for all districts when the health minister started in September this year in Mohali.”
He said, “We had already sent the posters and banners at that time and districts have been asked to send the report of their activities.” “It is an exclusive programme for the promotion and awareness of breastfeeding.”said Pal.
“It includes information on education and communication (IEC) activities mostly to ensure adequate awareness or generate awareness among masses, especially mothers, on the benefits of breastfeeding,” he added. Seeking anonymity a senior functionary from health department said, “Under the programme, a one-day sensitization and four-day training programme for ASHA, auxiliary nurse midwives (ANM) by the master trainers has to be provided.” “Relevant information and counselling support is to be provided to mothers for breastfeeding in government hospitals but nothing has happened,” said the senior official.
DEDICATED ROOM FOR BREASTFEEDING
As per the manual of MAA programme, all health facilities should have dedicated room so that breastfeeding mothers, who have come for a consultation, can breastfeed in privacy. Information about breastfeeding space will be prominently displayed for providing greater visibility and support for breastfeeding.
Further, those facilities that will perform well in promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding will be awarded and recognized at the state level. A cash award of Rs 10,000 per facility will be provided, which will be shared by the ANM, SN, doctors, paediatrician or obstetrician and gynecologist.
ASHA will have to carry out a ‘mothers’ meeting’ in their respective areas with pregnant mothers. In the meeting they are supposed to deliver key messages including early initiation of breastfeeding; immediately after birth within one hour and for the six months. No other food or drink, not even water, is usually needed during this period except medicines if needed. After six months, babies should be introduced to semi-solid, soft food (complementary feeding) but breastfeeding should continue for up to two years and beyond because it is an important source of nutrition, energy, and protection from illness.