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HEAL Foundation and EDMC launches massive IEC programme for school children

MUMBAI: Over 1.5 lakh students, mostly under-privileged, will benefit from one of the first IEC programmes of its kind, Swasthya Bacche Shikshit Bacche, jointly launched by HEAL Foundation and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) covering all primary schools of the Corporation in Delhi on December 9, 2014.

The Information Education and Communication (IEC) programme will raise awareness and promote good health practices on 5 crucial topics: Sanitation, Hygiene, Nutrition, Fitness and Stopping Child Abuse. It is probably one of the largest IEC drives in India entirely focused on increasing awareness and bringing behavioural change in children. POGO’s popular cartoon character, Chhota Bheem is the face of this 18-month long campaign designed to effectively highlight good health practices to children.

“Sanitation, personal hygiene and environmental pollution are directly linked with diarrhoea and other infectious diseases, which are in turn linked with poor absorption of nutrients and micronutrient deficiency. This is why an effective IEC programme could go a long way in improving physiological and psychological health of children,” said Swadeep Srivastava, Founding Chairman, HEAL Foundation.

Various studies have documented how access to safe water, sanitation and adequate hygiene can prevent malnutrition and improve child health. Data suggest that poor hand-washing practices put a burden of Rs 10,990 crore due to diarrhoea and of Rs 5945.60 crore due to acute respiratory infections, on the country. Research studies indicates that over two-thirds (68%) of the episodes of illness among children under 16 results in school absenteeism.

“Personal sanitation, environmental hygiene, nutrition, good health practices and child abuse are issues, which can only be addressed through effective community-based awareness interventions. The basic idea behind Swasthya Bacche Shikshit Bacche programme is to sensitise children at the school level itself, where bringing in behavioural change is comparatively easier. The idea is also to engage teachers to ensure reinforcement of these messages,” said Harsh Malhotra, Chairman, Education Committee, EDMC.

To capture the imagination of children and to effectively convey good health practices to them, POGO, the channel partner of the programme has made its popular character, Chhota Bheem the face of this IEC drive.

The on-ground activities in each school comprise workshops by experts on sanitation, hygiene, nutrition, fitness and stopping child abuse. Apart from these, fun activities and short films will be shown to all the school children. To reinforce the messages, workshops with parents and teachers will happen from time to time.

“Over the years, HEAL Foundation has gained lot of expertise in running IEC programmes. Like our other programmes, we focus on basics to achieve great results. According to the Cost of Infections study, done by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, every time a family member falls ill with an everyday infection, it costs the family Rs 8,997 per family member. This is a huge cost for these children and their families. We are hopeful that Swasthya Bacche Shikshit Bacche will make our children healthier and better equipped to attend school,” said Rai Umraopati Ray, Executive Director, HEAL Foundation.