Sensex closed down 434.31 points, or 0.59 per cent, at 72,623.09 while Nifty was down 141.90 points, or 0.64 per cent, at 22,055.05.
The well-being of any nation rests largely on its citizens and relies on them to maintain the physical and social infrastructure of society. This requires them to be physically healthy, emotionally stable, educated, and responsible towards dispensing civic duties while also pursuing better life outcomes.
Importance of strengthening families
Of all age groups, children are obviously the nation’s most valuable assets and depend on strong families to provide them with ample nutrition, medical and educational support in order to develop into healthy adults. Despite this required focus, 36% of children in India below five years of age show signs of chronic malnutrition while 19% suffer from acute malnutrition, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-21.
When turning attention to education attainment levels, 28% of females have never attended school and only 10% have completed 10 years or more of schooling. This relationship between low education levels among adults and poor nutrition standards being maintained for children underscores the importance of empowering marginalized families, especially in the rural hinterlands of India.
Correlation between economic hardships and child development
Families experiencing economic hardships may have severe difficulty in adequately caring for their children and eventually this leads to their abandonment. The median number of years of schooling is much higher in urban areas as compared to rural areas and is directly proportional to household wealth, according to the same NFHS-5 study. This puts the onus on helping young adults and parents to attain a minimum level of financial security so as to sufficiently provide for their children and support them with adequate counselling, skill, or vocational training support to increase their employability.
In fact, basic aspects like vaccination coverage for children aged between 12-23 months increases dramatically with an increase in their mother’s schooling, with 80% of children whose mothers have received 12 or more years of schooling having received all basic vaccinations. The corresponding vaccination rate stands at just 68% for those children whose mothers have no schooling. To prevent this, it is important to target the most vulnerable sections of society and empower them so as to build their capacity to take care of young children who are the future of a nation.
Driving poverty reduction by developing rural communities
In a bid to eradicate poverty amongst rural households and to alleviate them from dire stress during severe situations like the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to provide livelihood support to young families while also working towards developing such communities to achieve self-reliance. With this objective in mind, various organisations are providing essential services to children, such as education, health, and nutrition services while also parallelly empowering their parents to earn a living by providing them with skill-based training support.
After ensuring that adults are capable of finding employment to sustain their families, it is important to create awareness about vital family health practices like undergoing annual checkups, timely vaccinations and accessing existing support mechanisms like anganwadi workers, who provide nutritional services, additional or supplementary healthcare to children and pregnant women under the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme (ICDS Scheme) in India today.
Importance of fostering healthy families with key interventions
For India’s burgeoning social development sector that comprises of many Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working towards preventing adverse socio-economic impact on children, it is the need of the hour to cover all aspects necessary for creating healthy family structures. This involves providing education/academic support & counselling for young adults and creating awareness amongst the general public on issues affecting children. These can include spreading the importance of early vaccination, how to maintain a healthy diet for young children and hygiene habits essential to prevent the spread of diseases.
Additionally, such organisations could provide nutrition supplementation for families that cannot afford a proper diet, in order to address the issue of malnutrition that is prevalent in rural areas. By integrating educational programmes focused on imparting skill-based or vocational training along with family empowerment initiatives, these organisations can go a step ahead and help create families with sustainable livelihoods. To ensure the sustenance of all these initiatives, nurturing a network of self-help groups (SHGs) that will work as effective community development agents in such rural pockets can go a long way in bridging the current divide and help create a stronger India.
Building for a brighter future
The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation for many parents worldwide, and especially in Asia, as they struggle to maintain their livelihoods in order to access life-saving health care, nutrition and education. While India has made many strides in areas concerning family health by virtue of various flagship programmes launched by the Government of India, it will take a concerted attempt by all organisations involved in the social sector, along with the governmental agencies, to bring about a lasting change.
The target is to ensure that every child in our vast country enjoys access to quality food, education and development opportunities, that will in turn increase his/her chances of developing into a healthy and able individual who will support the nation in its growth journey. Towards this end, strengthening families will act as the vital cog in the large wheel of aiding family health, with a clear focus on educating young parents and empowering India’s children to reach greater heights.