Shillong ( Meghalaya), Dec 5 : With an aim to appreciate the efforts of the Anganwadi workers (AWWs), Village Health Councils (VHCs) and Village Organizations (VOs- SHG Federations at village level) in providing basic education, nutrition and ensuring health, especially in rural areas, a State Convention of Frontliners was held today at the SICPAC Multipurpose Hall, Mawkiasiang, here .
It may be mentioned that every month, through this robust frontliner network, the growth of about 500000 children between the ages 0 to 5 years is being monitored, achieving 85 to 90% weighing efficiency of children in Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) and villages across the state .
The CM-CAREs (Comfort, Assist, Respect, Empowerment) scheme was also launched at the event. Through this scheme, Social Security through financial assistance to Senior Citizens, Single Mothers belonging to households with incomes less than ₹36,000/year and all Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) will be provided. Through CM CAREs, the financial benefit of erstwhile CM’s Social Assistance Scheme has been increased from ₹500 to ₹750 per month w.e.f. October 2022. Currently, 65777 Senior Citizens, 36222 Single Mothers and 14227 PWDs are the present beneficiaries of CM-CAREs.
Two State awards to two districts and twelve awards- one from each district was presented at the event. Two districts from Meghalaya, namely South West Garo Hills District and Ri Bhoi Districts were awarded the ‘Best Districts for Commendable Efforts in reducing SAM & MAM among children’ in their respective districts. The AWWs as well as representatives from the VOs and VHCs also received awards for their commendable work in reducing SAM & MAM among children through collaborative efforts in the field. In addition to the 14 Awardees, recognition was also conferred to the 111 AWCs, VOs and VHCs post the inaugural session.
Recognizing the role of Anganwadi Workers and Village Organizations as the agents of social change in the State’s effort towards a Malnutrition Free Meghalaya, the Chief Minister also announced the enhancement of honorarium to AWW Workers by ₹1500, Mini AWW by ₹750 & Helper by ₹500 w.e.f 1st October, 2022 was also announced at the event.
While appreciating and acknowledging the tireless efforts of the Frontline functionaries, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma expressed his gratitude to the frontline functionaries and said that the goal of improving health and nutritional indicators has always been a priority area for the government. He added, “The Government is working with concerted efforts to improve the overall human development goals in the state. He recounted launching the MOTHER Programme for achieving Measurable Outcomes in Transforming Health Education, Rural Development and Social Welfare sectors through a holistic approach with focus on women’s Empowerment”. He stated that merely implementing the programme is not enough. What is important is to change the mindset and realize that schemes are a means to achieve greater goals.
Addressing the frontline workers, the CM added, “Today the model that we follow is being recognized at the highest level in the country and you have set a benchmark for other States to follow”. The Chief Minister while expressing happiness at the enhancement of honorarium for the AWW and AWW Helpers said, “The enhancement of the honorarium is a small token of appreciation for your selfless and dedicated service and to assure you of our support in your work.”
He also informed that all Anganwadi centers will be transformed into Early Childhood Development Centers with better structures, infrastructures and methodology involving parents by giving them training and necessary support.
Addressing the gathering as the Guest of honor, Social Welfare Minister, Kyrmen Shylla informed that this year the Ministry of Women and Child Development has renamed Anganwadi services as Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0. He said that this step is crucial for India’s development, as women and children comprise over two thirds of India’s population so the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals lies at the fore-front of this. He said that the CM’s-Care scheme launched during the event will focus on the fundamental importance of nutrition and early childhood care and education for the well-being, growth and development of children into healthy and productive adults. He appreciated and acknowledged the role of the frontline functionaries and stated that their role in achieving the state’s goals is crucial. He added, ‘’The state is committed to work for the improvement of nutritional indicators. For this, a convergence approach is being implemented to bring various departments together and working towards a common goal.’’
Speaking at the inaugural session, the Principal Secretary, Social Welfare Department, Sampath Kumar, IAS expressed his gratitude to the frontline workers for their tireless services and said that Meghalaya has faced challenges in terms of improving the health and nutritional status of its women and children. However, due to the collaborative efforts of the field level functionaries and the various departments, for the 1st time in 2020, Meghalaya ranked 2nd in the country in full child immunization coverage. This could be achieved because the default explanations for not being able to take immunization to the last mile was challenged. For instance, the FLWs came up with a unique solution of taking immunization closer to the people by conducting immunization sessions at a time when they would be free.
It may be mentioned that due to the systemic interventions aimed at improving state capability to improve health indicators, between 2020 to 2021, for the first time, Meghalaya recorded 93 percent recovery of SAM and 97% recovery of MAM children.
“Through the tireless and collaborative efforts of the Frontline workers, the state has been able to implement the strategies laid down for achieving the objective of making Meghalaya a malnutrition free state”, he added. He urged everyone present at the convention to take a collective resolve to make every effort possible to assist and support every mother and child and to improve the state health indicators.
The event began with a welcome song calling out to all community members to unite to improve the nutritional status of the women and children of Meghalaya. Following this, a short film on “Collaborative efforts of frontline workers to reduce SAM and MAM in Meghalaya” was also played. The event also witnessed Educational sessions which involved the following- Importance of nutritional indicators was led Session on Immunization and Session on ECD Mission. The event was hosted by the COO- MSRLS Ronald Kynta and the vote of thanks was accorded by the Director, Social Welfare Department, Dikki D Shira.
The event witnessed the attendance of Anganwadi workers, ANMs, ASHAs, Village Organization and Village Health Councils (VHCs) from across the State. Key officials from the Social Welfare Department, Health Department and Community & Rural Development Departments, Meghalaya Early Childhood Development Mission, Meghalaya State Capability Enhancement Project and Meghalaya State Rural Livelihood Society (MSRLS) among others.