Shyama is a 13-year old rag picker who lives in Sector 56 Slums an urban slum of the Millennium city of Gurugram. Even as she segregates the garbage in a landfill, she carefully puts any edible leftovers in a separate polybag to take home for her pregnant mother and infant brother. Not surprisingly, she is underweight, her mother is severely anemic, and her infant brother is showing signs of early stunting.
Women and children as we already know, are bearing a disproportionate burden of the pandemic induced health and food crisis. At last count, according to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 202O report, India had about 189.2 million undernourished people, majority of whom are women and children.
More than two decades ago I had a chance conversation with a neighbour’s house-help who I happened to meet on my evening walk. She was barely 17 years old and heavily pregnant. She looked pale and underweight. Later I regretted not asking her if she needed any help or support especially with her diet, nutrition and any other medical assistance. Few weeks later I heard that she died due to childbirth related complications. A young life snuffed out.
In a virtual press conference held in June this year about maternal, child and adolescent health during the Covid-19 pandemic, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the indirect effect the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the health of women and children may outweigh the number of deaths from the disease itself. “As the pandemic escalates in low-and middle-income countries, WHO is especially …..
I always go back by almost a decade to remember what really prompted me to change a career from running a business for profit to something more responsible and gratifying to my inner-self. Even today, I feel emotionally connected with the women and children of Mewat because they added unique perspectives to my thought process of designing program(s) for addressing different social issues at the grass-root level.
If a mother is malnourished during pregnancy, or if her child is malnourished during the first two years of life, their physical and mental growth and development may be slowed. This damage incurred cannot be repaired at a later date and continues to affect the child throughout their life.