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  • Reckitt-Plan India empowers 4 Mn mothers & 70K children across 268 villages in 5 districts of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra

    Published on May 17, 2024

    New Delhi: Reckitt, a global leader in consumer health and hygiene, has partnered with Plan India to launch the “Self Care for New Moms and Kids Under 5” initiative. This initiative focuses on improving maternal and child health in Bhavnagar and Gir Somnath in Gujarat, Dhule and Washim in Maharashtra, and Rajsamand in Rajasthan. Based on the World Health Organization’s definition of self-care, the project recognizes the role of individuals, families, and communities in promoting health, preventing disease, and managing well-being. It aims to enhance the overall well-being of new mothers and integrates self-care into childhood development, affirming that health is a fundamental right.

    The initiative engages young mothers in rural communities through innovative outreach programs, including traditional street plays, a variety of educational activities, and door-to-door engagements that bring vital health information and services right to their doorsteps. This direct approach ensures that the benefits of self-care and health education reach every household, aligning with Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to ‘Health For All.’ The program’s extensive reach in these regions helps to empower mothers and caregivers, enabling them to take charge of their own and their children’s health effectively.

    Initially known as ‘Reach Each Child,’ the program reached over 268 villages across five districts – Nandurbar and Amravati in Maharashtra, Rajsamand in Rajasthan, and Gir and Bhavnagar in Gujarat. Since its inception last year, the program has reached over 70,000 children under the age of five and the initiative has reached over 4 million mothers through the region. Now, transitioning to Self-Care, the program aims to extend its reach to 10 million mothers. ‘

    Self-Care Theme Song

    The program has launched one of the central elements of this initiative: an empowering theme song “Maa E Maa,” which encapsulates the spirit of maternal strength and resilience. The song’s lyrics remind mothers of their influential role, akin to revered figures like Jijabai and Goddess Amba, reinforcing the cultural resonance and empowering message of the song. It advocates for regular health check-ups, doctor’s advice, and vaccinations and aligns with Plan India’s focus towards preventive healthcare.

    Inspired by the ancient Gujarati proverb, “Mother is mother, all else is secondary,” the song deeply connects with the cultural roots and everyday lives of mothers. The song lyrics highlight the significance of nutritious food and a clean environment as foundational aspects of child health, echoing the program’s focus on holistic health education. It reminds mothers of their influential role, akin to revered figures like Jijabai and Goddess Amba, reinforcing the cultural resonance and empowering message of the song. By advocating for regular health check-ups, doctor’s advice, and vaccinations, the song aligns perfectly with the program’s directives for preventive healthcare and self-management.

    Geeta Rabari, a world-renowned name in Gujarati folk music, has lent her voice to amplify the message of the program. Sharing her connection and inspiration for participating in this initiative she said, “As a singer, I believe in the power of music to touch hearts, inspire minds and to educate in a manner that is so deeply rooted in our communities. This song is my homage to all mothers — the unsung heroes who foster life and love. It is a tribute to all mothers in Gujarat and across the country encouraging them to embrace practices of self-care and prioritise their health and well-being and that of their children.”

    Commenting on the partnership, Ravi Bhatnagar, Director of External Affairs and Partnerships at Reckitt, said “This song is a tribute to all new moms, and is made with the mission to ensure health for all. Through ‘Self care for new moms and kids under 5’, we are engaging with various tribal communities and are not just spreading awareness, but also equipping mothers with the tools they need for effective self-care, driving transformative health improvements for all. By empowering new moms with agency and promoting hyper-local practices, we are developing a culture of empowerment and resilience within the communities.”

    Empowering Local Communities: With ‘Gulabi Didis

    The ‘Self Care for New Moms and Kids Under 5’ initiative leverages the expertise of ‘Gulabi didis,’ local women trained as community health workers who are pivotal in disseminating health knowledge and enhancing healthcare access. They bring the program directly to households focusing on taking comprehensive self-care education to every young mother and child across the region and leaving no one behind.

    ‘Gulabi didis’ play a critical role in educating young women and caregivers through one-on-one counselling around the six fundamental self-care pillars for maternal health including Hygiene and Health, Antenatal Checkups, Birth Spacing, Yoga and Mental Well-being, Food and Health, and Vector-borne Diseases.  They ensure that they key principles for Self care reach and are adopted as outlined by the WHO Self Care guidelines. Providing counselling across various topics such as maintaining a healthy diet, being physically active, getting vaccinated, avoiding tobacco, managing stress for physical and mental health, practising good health, regularly checking health, breastfeeding, and birth spacing.

    Additionally, the Community Health Workers sensitise communities on the importance of proper handwashing at the critical touch points which includes washing hands after defecation, and the use of toilets; before eating; before preparing and serving food; before feeding infants/children; after cleaning a child’s bottom, and after coughing/sneezing during illness. In addition, the program has established partnerships with health and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) departments to conduct community mothers’ meetings through Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Days (VHSNDs), also known as ‘Mamta Diwas’.

    The program also follows WHO’s guidelines to prevent major childhood diseases like Diarrhoea and Pneumonia, utilising the 7-point plan for Comprehensive Diarrhoea Control and the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD). In addition, through the counselling provided by ‘Gulabi didis’ help in the identification, and referral of diarrhoea and pneumonia cases which are one of the most common causes leading to infant deaths in the region and help enable a prioritized and prompt management of these conditions throughout the region. 

    Commenting on the program Mohammed Asif, Executive Director of Plan India, said “Our approach is rooted in empowerment through education. ‘Self-care for new moms and kids under 5’ is in line with our commitment to equipping mothers with the tools and understanding necessary to take proactive steps in their and their children’s health, enabling a holistic prevention-based approach to care and contributing to a robust future for our country.”

    Through this initiative Reckitt in partnership with Plan India has taken extensive efforts ranging from the establishment of health camps to the deployment of mobile health units that deliver primary care services directly to the doorsteps of those in need. These efforts are complemented by digital platforms, audio based content to explain self-care concepts that provide essential health information and services, ensuring widespread reach and impact. The organisation’s efforts are a testament to the power of collective action and shared responsibility in creating a healthier future for all mothers and children. The project is committed to ensuring that self-care education extends to every corner of the community, leaving no individual behind.

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