Globally, more than one third of under-five deaths are attributable to under-nutrition. About 20 per cent of children under-age five in India are wasted (acute malnutrition), 43 per cent underweight and 48 per cent stunted (chronic malnutrition). In terms of numbers about 54 million children under five years in India are underweight which constitutes about 37% of the total underweight children in the world. In India, 25 million children under five years are wasted and 61 million are stunted, which constitutes 31 per cent and 28 per cent of wasted and stunted children respectively in the world.
It is clear that India is not likely to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), (eight international development goals that were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000) on child malnutrition, which uses children underweight as the indicator.
Since the MDGs were adopted in the year 2000, knowledge on causes and consequences of under-nutrition has greatly improved. Research shows that the most critical cause of malnutrition emerges from nutritional deficiencies during the periods of mother’s pregnancy. Hence intervention at this stage is an opportunity to prevent under-nutrition among children and ensure that they reach appropriate growth levels.
Mumbai Smiles’ vision and mission to alleviate poverty is closely aligned with the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). It aims to achieve their goals through these MDG’s. With this vision Mumbai Smiles has collaborated with Armman foundation and international body MAMA (Mobile Alliance for maternal action) to provide voice-call health advice service for pregnant women and lactating mothers through a project called ‘mMitra’
So how does this work?
The women who register for delivery in this project are called on the phone twice a week and a health message is played to them. Mobiles being ubiquitous in India, it becomes very easy to deliver vital health information directly to the Indian women in the slums.
This project aims at improving the well-being of 7900 pregnant & lactating mothers. Mumbai Smiles will be covering the communities in the slum areas of Andheri East in Mumbai. They will be registering the beneficiaries and then begin the voice call services. So far, 1200 mothers have been registered. The project will attempt to raise awareness about government schemes and services on maternal and child health.
Mumbai Smiles hopes to contribute towards the larger goal of reducing child malnutrition and develop healthy practices among pregnant women.