SevaChild India, Rishikesh and Dehradun NGOs join hands to prevent blindness in Uttarakhand kids

Rishikesh (Uttarakhand) [India]: Mumbai-based SevaChild India, along with the Rural Development Institute (RDI), Divine Shakti Foundation and Him Jyoti School for Girls came together to conduct a health, hygiene and sanitation awareness day on 17th October 2016 at the Mayakund slum. It was combined with the distribution of Vitamin A and Albendazole to children below the age of five.

Child receiving Vitamin A 1

– Between 250,000 and 500,000 preschool-aged children worldwide become blind each year as a result of a lack of vitamin A; half of those victims die within a year of losing their sight.

– Two time-release doses of Vitamin A per year can prevent Vitamin A Deficiency Disorder (VADD) in at-risk children (ages 5 and under) and reduce related child mortality by about 23%.

Rick Carlton, Founder of SevaChild International, who has travelled here from the U.S. for the event, said, “SevaChild has been working to address Vitamin A deficiency in children under five years for several years. This is in recognition of the fact that Vitamin A deficiency can render a child blind and even take a child’s life if not addressed.” SevaChild India has developed a network of over 2000 distribution partners who have administered Vitamin A and Albendazole to over 10 lakh children in 2015 and to 12 lakh (1.2 million) children this year. They will continue to build on their efforts with a goal to reach 20 lakh (2 million) children by the end of 2017.

On 17 October every child under five living in Mayakund, the biggest slum of Rishikesh, was given Vitamin A and Albendazole (deworming). In addition, the mothers of the children were examined by RDI health practitioners and given treatment free of cost for detected health problems. With health as the central theme, a quiz was conducted for mothers of the children and prizes, in the form of health and hygiene kits, were given to the winning mothers.

Seva Child facilitated supplies of Vitamin A capsules and Albendazole through donors for distribution among the children, and RDI administered the doses. RDI presently serves over 30,000 children in rural areas of Uttarakhand with the disease preventive Vitamin A and has set a goal to reach every child in Uttarakhand with the intervention.

Divine Shakti Foundation stationed a mobile van at the venue and distributed IEC material and screen films that spread awareness on health to the visitors. Street plays were staged. The girls from Him Jyoti School in Dehradun enacted a play on health and hygiene awareness.

The initiative was one of very few where four organizations joined hands to offer comprehensive health services to children as well as their mothers. It was also unique that the health camp was coupled with distribution of Vitamin A and Albendazole.

It is estimated that 30million Indian children under the age of five suffer from Vitamin A deficiency which, if not addressed, can lead to blindness. Half the children that lose their sight from this disease are likely to die within a year of going blind. WHO states that up to 23% of such children can be saved from blindness and death with timely doses of Vitamin A. However, foods that are rich in Vitamin A, such as meat, oranges and milk are out of reach of millions of children living below the poverty line. Hence, Vitamin A supplements are an alternative that can help.

Mr. Deep Sharma, President of the Nagar Palika, Panchayat President Smt. Anitha, Ms. Mythili, Director, HIHT and Dr. Rajiv Biswal, Coordinator of the Programme, SevaChild board members Vinod Malhotra and Ankush Mehra, Sadhvi Bhagvati Saraswatiof Divine Shakti Foundation, and Head Mistress of Him Jyoti School, Smt. Kavita Singh were present. (ANI)