New Delhi: Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Smriti Irani, Union Minister for Women & Child Development and Textiles, identified areas of enhanced convergence and collaboration for meeting goals for nutrition and health of women and children to achieve the global goal for health and nutrition, in a meeting held at Nirman Bhawan yesterday.
Laying out the context of the meeting, Vardhan said, “We are committed to Universal Health Coverage. Our policies and programmes are directed towards making sure that every mother, every child and every adolescent survives and thrives.”
He added that under-nutrition and other social determinants are closely associated with maternal-child survival and development and since these issues are also a concern for WCD, this is a pertinent area of enhanced collaboration for the two Ministries.
After the meeting, the Union Health Minister stated that the two Ministers have jointly agreed that both Ministries need to work on developing common and standard IEC material and joint campaigns, including in vernacular languages, on several schemes which have similar goals. The aim is to help beneficiaries with details of the schemes, and where and how to avail of these.
Using common channels of dissemination through frontline health workers of the Health Ministry and the anganwadi workers of WCD Ministry was also discussed, as they are the best ambassadors working very closely within the communities.
Harsh Vardhan also stated that adolescent health is another area which shall immensely benefit from converged activities to create awareness about issues such as menstrual hygiene, alcohol and substance abuse, gender violence, and mental health, and also reduce early marriage, and prevent and control under-nutrition and anaemia, adding that the skill sets of the health workers and anganwadi workers can be jointly enhanced.
It was also suggested that Peer Educators of Rashtriya Kishore Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) could help in creating awareness about the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act of Ministry of WCD.
In addition, a joint working group to identify the areas of collaboration, define how common activities will be taken up at the ground level, develop standard communication packages, define benchmarks which both Ministries have to achieve together, and identify areas of research was discussed.
Besides the role and partnership with other Ministries such as Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Department of Pharmaceuticals under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, was mooted.
The Union WCD Minister Smriti Irani also proposed that the WCD Ministry would support the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), of the Ministry of Science & Technology, to establish 10 chairs in National Institutes to celebrate women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Similar support from the WCD Ministry for supporting and encouraging women in the field of innovation and medical research was also discussed.
Also present at the meeting were Preeti Sudan, Secretary (HFW); Rabindra Panwar, Secretary (WCD); Dr. Renu Swarup Secretary (DBT) and senior officers from both Ministries.