Sonia Gandhi launches Child Health Screening and Early Intervention Services initiative

Ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi launched the "Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram", a new health initiative of the Government to provide Child Health Screening and Early Intervention Services, from Palghar, a tribal block in Thane district of Maharashtra today.
The initiative is aimed at providing comprehensive healthcare and improve the quality of life of children through early detection of birth defects, diseases, deficiencies and development delays including disability.
Ms Gandhi said the UPA government was committed to achieving the objective of "Health for All" through accessible, affordable and equitable healthcare services. 
She said the Congress party had always strived to be the vehicle of empowerment of the people, especially the marginalized sections of the society, see everybody’s dreams fulfilled through inclusive development. 
Ms Gandhi said that, under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), several new initiatives had been taken, particularly to improve maternal and child health. Over Rs. 90,000 crores had been released to the states for strengthening health systems. Despite tremendous improvements in health indicators, about 15 lakh children die before their fifth birthday every year. Many more suffer from debilitating diseases affecting their growth and quality of life, she said.
Ms Gandhi, who is also chairperson of the National Advisory Council (NAC), pointed out that India accounted for more than half of the global burden of polio in 2009. With intensive effort and resolute political will, India has remained polio free for more than two years now, she said.
Over 23 lakh volunteers under 1.7 lakh supervisors administer polio drops to about 17 crore children in one nation-wide round, which is the largest exercise in the world, sh said.
She said there were 8.80 lakh accredited social health activists (ASHAs) acting as a strong
interface between the health system and the community. 
"UPA-I introduced Janani Suraksha Yojana in 2005 to encourage institutional deliveries by giving cash assistance to pregnant women as incentives. Building on the success of the JSY scheme, Janani Shishu Suraksha karyakram was launched in 2011 to eliminate out-of-pocket expenses for both pregnant women and sick neonates. Under this scheme, every pregnant woman is entitled to absolutely free delivery, including caesarean section, in public health institutions now. Besides the free ante-natal and post-natal check-ups, the scheme provides for free diagnostics, free medicines, free consumables, free food during hospital stay, free caesarean section and free blood, if required and free transport to health facility and drop back home," she said.
Ms Gandhi said Mother and Child Tracking System (MCTS) had been put in place to reach out to every pregnant woman for proper care during pregnancy and to every child for proper vaccination. A BPO type system has been set up in the Health Ministry to verify data and give information about check-ups and immunization schedule. A new scheme has been initiated for the promotion of menstrual hygiene among adolescent girls in rural areas. It covers 1.5 crore girls in the age group of 10-19 years in 152 districts of 20 states. 
To address the growing burden of non-communicable diseases particularly diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer, a national programme was initiated in 100 districts in 21 states for screening of persons above 30 years and pregnant mothers for early detection, control and treatment of diabetes, hypertension and cancer. 
Under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY), six new All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have been established at Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jodhpur, Patna, Raipur and Rishikesh, each with a 976 bedded hospital with 42 super specialty departments and a medical college. In Phase II of PMSSY, two new AIIMS will come up at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh and Raiganj in West Bengal. Besides this, up-gradation of 19 medical colleges with super-specialty blocks has been taken up across the country under PMSSY, she said.
Ms Gandhi said that, with the launch of the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram, regular health screening of children in public health facilities, aanganwadis and Government and 
Government aided schools for defects at birth, diseases, deficiencies and development
disorders will be done now. 
This programme will cover 25 crore children all over the country in a phased manner and provide for free follow up management and treatment at the district hospitals and at tertiary levels. She hoped that all State Governments would march in step with the Central Government and take proactive steps to roll out the screening and intervention services at the earliest to improve the survival, health and overall development of children.

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