By YKA Staff:
“Koi bachta hai, koi nahi bachta hai, koi delivery hote hote usko beemari pakad leta hai…” (“Some survive, some don’t. Some fall seriously ill by the time of their delivery…”)
These words by a woman in the Araria district of Bihar send a very important message about the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), which was supposed to be a lifeline in pre-natal healthcare across the country. Under this scheme – supplementary nutrition to children below 6 years of age and pregnant and lactating women, immunisation of pregnant women and children, health check-ups for children below six years and pre-school education for children between 0-6 years of age are provided.
While the government of Bihar claims to have implemented the programme at 80,211 Anganwadi centres across the state, the ground situation tells a different story.
The guidelines suggest that there should be one Anganwadi centre in a population of 800-1000 people, but this number falls grossly short as anganwadis struggle to handle more children and women than they have the provisions for. When the young community correspondents and the Youth Ki Awaaz team reached Araria district, we saw that the Anganwadi centres lacked resources to meet the needs of pregnant and lactating women, as well as the children.
The future too seems bleak: In 2015, budget allocation for ICDS was cut by the Central Government by nearly 60%, from Rs. 18,691 crore to Rs. 8,000 crore. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, in March, expressed his concern about this budget cut, as it would now put pressure on the states to fund programmes like ICDS from their limited budget. With parties like BJP clamouring for a win in Bihar, will their victory signify any improvement for these women who are denied basic access to prenatal healthcare?
This video is a part of #BiharKiBaat series on Youth Ki Awaaz. YKA traveled to Araria District to train young correspondents in interviewing local community members about issues plaguing the district, with the co-operation and help of Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, Araria. Check out the first video about the old age pension crisis here.