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tribune special-part II
40% anganwaris lack medical kits
Punjab received zero stocks of Vitamin A, iron/folic acid, Metrogyl, Vitamin B complex and ORS
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 22
Besides supplementary nutrition, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme is also supposed to ensure healthcare delivery to children up to the age of six years, pregnant women and adolescent girls. Regular health checks, maintenance of registers pertaining to child growth and immunisation, and treatment of infections is integral to the duty of an anganwari worker. For this to happen, fresh medicine stocks are quintessential.

But the Planning Commissionís evaluation report reveals that the medicine stock and child weight and growth registers are being poorly maintained across the country with only 33.7 per cent of the surveyed 1,500 centres in 35 states updating their registers regularly.

Also, 13 per cent of anganwari centres (AWCs) were found to have expired medical kits while 37.6 per cent did not have any medical kit at all for 2008-2009, the period of study. AWCs in Punjab, Chhattisgarh and J&K recorded zero receipt of kits. Also, the percentage of AWCs with expired medical kits was the highest in Punjab (50), followed by Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand at 40.9 and 28.2 per cent, respectively.

Surprisingly, only 581 big and 479 small tablets of iron/folic acid (anti-anaemia) were received at the surveyed 1,500 centres across the country. On an average, only three bottles of Vitamin A; 401 tablets of paracetamol; two bottles of paracetamol syrup, 94 tablets of Metrogyl (for diarrhoea) and 357 tablets of Mebadazol (anti-bacterial infections) were received by these AWCs.

Also, Punjab, J&K and Chhattisgarh received zero stocks of Vitamin A bottles; iron/folic acid; Metrogyl and Vitamin B complex. Punjab didnít receive any packet of ORS while Haryana received most medicines except paracetamol syrup of which it had nil stock. Less than 5 per cent AWCs received Vitamin A stock and less than 10 per cent received any eye ointments, with Punjab, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, J&K and Jharkhand receiving none. These states also reported zero receipt of Betnovate tubes.

Inability of the anganwari workers to update critical medicine stock registers led to nil or expired medicine stocks. Since no demand was made, no supplies came. The investigators found that most anganwari workers were not trained to update medicine, child growth and weight registers.

Nationally, only 42.3 per cent anganwaris updated child weight and growth registers and less than 50 pc updated immunisation data and survey registers, which list the eligible beneficiaries. Percentage of the centres updating daily attendance; birth and death registers was 84.9 and 95.6, respectively.

ďThe anganwari workers required to keep stock of survey registers and childrenís weight and growth charts, had little knowledge of the job. The attendance, birth and death registers were better maintained. Rest of the registers were not even traceable at most centres,Ē the report concludes.

Region ignored

  • Over 90% AWCs in Kerala, Haryana, Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh utilised big iron and folic acid tablets while Punjab, J&K, Chhattisgarh didnít receive this stock
  • 87% centres nationally used ORS; Punjab, J&K, Chhattisgarh did not receive stocks
  • 90% centres reported the use of Metrogyl to fight diarrhoea; less than 10% centres received eye ointments and Dettol.
  • Except Tamil Nadu, no state had more than 60% centres updating medicine stock registers
  • No centre in Punjab, J&K and Chhattisgarh updated medicine registers

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