Child Health
1. Physical Health and Nutrition:

India has one of the poorest health records in the world. Every third child in India is malnourished and the infant and child mortality rate of the country is still very high. The infant mortality rate is 63 deaths for every 1000 live births and of these 47% of the deaths occur within the first week after birth.

When it comes to food based schemes, rampant discrimination in these schemes and the society in general, leads to starvation deaths among women and children of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. According to research studies, Muslim children have the highest rate of stunting and second highest rate of being underweight. There is little access to health facilities for children with disabilities or HIV/AIDS and there are almost no services or programmes for children with mental health issues. India also has the highest TB prevalence in the world, every three out of four children have anaemia, and polio eradication is actually backsliding rather than improving.

Due to varying social sector budgets across the country, health indicators differ greatly. According to UNICEF India, over two million children die every year from preventable diseases. Measles is the largest cause of death among children which can be prevented by a vaccine. Tetanus, a serious disease in newborns remains a major problem Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, and Assam.

Case Study

Saviour of a child’s life

A call was received from a local Civic Hospital informing that a 2 days old girl was suffering from stomach infection and needed immediate surgical intervention. The infant’s parents were uneducated and being from the economically weaker section, they could not capable to bear the cost involved with the surgery. CHILDLINE India Foundation coordinator met with the family and the concerned doctor to understand the case in detail and it was suggested by the doctor to move the infant to a better hospital. CHILDLINE India Foundation initiated the transfer of the baby to a tertiary hospital in the region as well as the cost for the treatment was also covered. Surgery of the infant was performed the next day. The baby had to remain in the hospital for a longer time as it was later identified that it had lung infection and a second surgery was performed after a fortnight. After recovery, the infant was discharged from the hospital. All the hospital bills and medicine costs were arranged by CHILDLINE India Foundation. The parents were happy to see their baby recovered from illness and thanked CHILDLINE India Foundation calling it the ‘saviour of their child’s life.’

(*Name and details changed to protect the child)

2. Emotional and Mental Health:

Emotional abuse is continuous emotional mistreatment of children that arise from a non-supportive environment. This includes restricting movement, discriminations, mockery, threats, criticism, constant blaming, making a child perform degrading acts and manipulating a child. Emotional abuse is also the persistent neglect or ignoring of a child and failing to encourage a child's social development. All these actions have a damaging effect on a child’s mental health.

Case Study

Rescue of girl facing strained relations and forced abuse

A 16-year-old girl was in a relationship with a local man. When her father died due to illness, the man took her to his house and they began living together. Her brothers attempted to bring her back home but she refused citing poverty as the reason. Her brothers then shed all ties with her as the man was from a different caste. Initially she was happy with the man but soon he and his mother started to exploit her mentally and physically. She was forced into prostitution and when she resisted, she was locked in a small room for many days. She became weak, malnourished and mentally distressed. Some local people informed CHILDLINE India Foundation about the case. CHILDLINE India Foundation along with Child Welfare Committee (CWC), DCPO and the local police station rescued the girl. She was admitted in a district hospital as her condition had become critical and she remained unconscious for days. After she recovered, CHILDLINE India Foundation counselled her and she filed a complaint against the man and his mother. CHILDLINE India Foundation briefed the Superintendent of Police about the case and he instructed the police to file an FIR. The man and his mother were arrested. Meanwhile, the girl was shifted to a bigger hospital due to her deteriorating condition. During the last follow-up, the girl was found to be out of danger and trying to resume a normal life.

(*Name and details changed to protect the child)