MACHAN - Mother And Child Health And Nutrition

While India has achieved considerable progress in improving and promoting health and nutrition in mothers and children in recent years, the country still has a long way to go before the issues of undernutrition among children and mothers are a thing of the past. According to the latest government data, the infant mortality rate (IMR) is 32 and the maternal mortality rate (MMR) is 113. To put it in a global perspective, India ranks 47th on IMR and 56th on MMR out of 184 countries according to the Central Intelligence Agency.

ChildFund India’s Mother And Child Health And Nutrition (MACHAN) envisions that every child is healthy, nourished, and secure. Therefore, interventions under MACHAN are aimed at ensuring universal access to health by means of providing adequate nutrition, promoting safe motherhood, WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) interventions, protection against life-threatening childhood illnesses, food security and empowering the community. MACHAN works with governments, experts, local partners, and communities across 14 states to bridge the multi-sectoral needs of Infants and Young Children, aged 0-5, along with the well-being of mothers and caregivers.

MACHAN interventions are designed through the following approaches to achieve better early childhood care and development, in rural and disadvantaged areas:

Community-based approaches

Our interventions, Mentor Mothers for Healthy & Nourished Children and Mother Committees for Mother & Child Health work towards empowering mothers for improved care, hygiene, and nutrition for the child and themselves with community support, capacity building, and leadership training. The committee also links young children and new mothers to various government programs and schemes. Positive Deviance Plus aims to create positive behavior changes in mothers and communities by drawing on collective local wisdom of nutrition, discovering sustainable solutions for continued child care, and empowering families to take ownership of ensuring the comprehensive development of their children.

The WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) intervention helps children and communities mitigate water-borne health hazards by installing community-run and owned automated water purification units and developing community-based monitoring systems to promote healthy and sustainable behaviors.

Nurturing Early Childhood Years

We have designed various components to provide support for children’s development and nutrition needs between the ages of 0 and 5. Our program, the First 1000 Days of Life, encourages mothers, families, and healthcare workers towards better child and maternal healthcare, promoting good practices like adequate rest and wage compensation for undernourished mothers to support a child’s development from birth to its 2nd birthday.  The Early Childhood Stimulation and Responsive Parenting intervention sensitizes them towards methods to help children from birth to 3-year's-of-age achieve physical, cognitive, language, socio-emotional, and creative developmental milestones.

We work towards better food security for children through the Nutrition and Caregivers Livelihood Security intervention. We teach mothers hands-on skills on kitchen gardening, generating income through allied agricultural activities, increasing financial savings, and knowledge of food and nutrition. We also provide institutional support for children in the 3–6 year's age group through Vibrant and Demonstrable Anganwadi (Early Childhood Development) Centres. Children are provided access to better health, nutrition, and a high-quality stimulating environment in transformed government-run Anganwadi centers to further their developmental milestones.

Children with Special Needs

This is a special nutrition intervention for children affected and infected by HIV/AIDS. Under this intervention, we work towards continuum care and support by empowering children, parents, and caregivers through counseling and awareness generation, ensuring treatment adherence, providing nutritional supplements, assisting affected and infected children with educational support, and livelihood promotion for caregivers. Currently, this intervention reaches thousands of HIV/AIDS-affected and infected children across selected urban slums and villages in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

So far, MACHAN has benefitted two million people in 57 districts of 14 Indian states. Overall, MACHAN’s holistic approach towards strengthening early childhood development helps in achieving at least seven of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).