Thursday, July 31, 2014

Of the eradication of polio and the need to end infant mortality because of diarrhoea

Not exactly the kind of header you would normally expect from this blog, is it? There is a reason behind this and the reason is as follows. The lovely people at Unicef India invited me last week to Delhi for a couple of events, and I accepted.

On the evening of July 27, UNICEF had a felicitation function to mark India's landmark achievement of being polio free. Amitabh Bachchan, who is the goodwill ambassador for Unicef's polio campaign was felicitated with over 100o men and women from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar's Social Mobilisation Network.
Eradication of polio has been a mammoth effort. I remember when the brat was under five, workers would come home to check if he had received the vaccine, the polio drops days were announced well in advance in the neighbourhood, and the centres set up at convenient walking distance for most people to take their young children to. Not only that, there were workers in most building complexes, at a central location to ensure that folks just had to step down from their homes and get their kids immunised against polio. If by chance one skipped the dose, for the next week, which public place one visited, be it malls or theatres or railway stations, there was a table with social workers there, asking one if the child had received his polio dose. One can only imagine the magnitude of organising this effort all across India. Each year, around 2.3 million lakh vaccinators, led by 155,000 supervisors, visit 209 million households to administer the polio vaccine during each of these campaigns. Nearly a billion doses of oral polio vaccine are consumed during the campaigns annually.
India was certified polio-free in February 2014-- a feat it accomplished overcoming several challenges including population density, high rates of migration, poor sanitation, high birth rates, and low rates of routine immunization in the highest risk states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Present on the occasion was the Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Varshan, who has also written a book on polio eradication, he being a pioneer of the polio eradication programme in India. He said,” India’s feat of being polio-free for three years and receiving WHO certification is indeed a victory for the millions of health and community workers who broke many a barrier to reach out to the unreached children. They are the most powerful voice of the polio eradication movement. They allayed fears and addressed misconceptions. They built partnerships with the local community and religious leadership. It is because of their efforts--of going door to door, administering polio vaccine to children and educating people about the importance of the polio vaccine, that India could achieve this success”

“India’s success is a cause for celebration – but not complacency. India is polio free but the risk of polio persists. Until the disease is eradicated globally, we need to continue to protect children against the virus and remain in a state of preparedness to respond to any case of poliovirus importation as an emergency,” said, Mr Louis-Georges Arsenault of Unicef. Commending Mr Bachchan’s unstinted support towards the cause, he said, “Mr Bachchan has been the face of polio’s mass media campaigns for over a decade. His one-liner “do boond zindagi ki” (two drops of polio vaccine) has been one of the most effective messages in the fight against polio. It had been critical in persuading parents and care-givers to give their children polio vaccines.”
The morning of the 28th, the union minister for health and family welfare launched the intensified diarrhea control fortnight (IDCF). The session was quite an eye opener for me. Diarrhoea, I learnt, was responsible for over 2 lakh children dying in India every single year, and all the more depressing because these are deaths which could be avoided by the simple administration of ORS fluids. 
“Building on the good progress that India has already made in reducing child deaths, the Intensified Diarrhoea Control Fortnight will mobilize health personnel, state governments and other stakeholders to prioritize investment in control of diarrhea—one of the most common childhood illnesses. It aims to create mass awareness about the most effective and low-cost diarrhoea treatment— a combination of Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS) solution and Zinc tablets,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan, speaking on the occasion. 

The Joint Secretary Dr. Rakesh Kumar and Professor Mathuram Santosham from John Hopkins , USA made a comprehensive presentation describing the global scenario as well as the details of the fortnight. Dr. Rakesh Kumar explained that during the fortnight, intensified community awareness campaigns on hygiene and age-appropriate childhood feeding practices and promotion of ORS and Zinc therapy will be conducted at state, district and village levels.  The focus will be on diarrhea control activities during the first week and on infant and young child feeding practices (IYCF) during the second week. ORS-Zinc Corners will be set-up at health care facilities. Health workers will hold counselling sessions on appropriate methods of Infant and Young Child feeding practices, hygiene and sanitation.
In our own ways, we can spread the word. Talk to people about the need for good hygiene to  prevent stomach infections, encourage exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months for infants, educate people around us about ORS and how to administer it to a child suffering from diarrhoea. Small steps, but enough of these small steps from each one of could well become a march that saves our children from avoidable deaths.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My Parle G Parent Quotient Post for this week

How to throw the perfect birthday party for your kid

Things change a fair bit as the child grows up. When he was little, the panic would start setting in by the first of July and reach a crescendo by October, at the end of which would be his birthday party. I would be, for the three months that preceded it, a total Birthday Party Momzilla, scouring shops for the vaguest of themes that he would decide he wanted for a party, shrieking in horror when I couldn’t find the exact themed party return gift bag, and ordering in special printed bags. We’ve done it all, trust me, from Noddy, to Sponge Bob Squarepants, to the Avengers, to Cricket themed party. But the most recent ‘party’ a couple of months ago had scaled down considerably. The previous parties averaged around 60 children and an equal number of supervising adults, but that has now been scaled down to five children from within the building complex, handpicked as the boy’s very best friends in the whole wide world and NO supervising adults. They had a John Cena themed WWE party in the house itself, all designed and organised by the brat. I merely supervised the provision of food.
This year, there will be no party. All he’s asked for is that he takes a few of his best pals out to lunch at a good restaurant. Which sounds ideal to me and the way it should be in a civilised world where the kids eat, back slap each other, rib each other, and you merely sign the bill, instead of tearing your hair out about whether the colour scheme of the cake is matching the colour scheme of the decorations and whether the goody bags are in keeping with the theme.
Read the rest of the post here

Monday, July 21, 2014

Must Follow Women Influencers on Twitter | Trends | SHEROES

Must Follow Women Influencers on Twitter | Trends | SHEROES

To all the fathers out there My Parle G Parent Quotient post


What kind of a father are you?

Posted by Kiran Manral
The boy, in the surly manner that has become the default setting since he turned into a tween, recently went up to the father when he awoke and wished him.  The father hugged him back for a brief second, told him to brush his teeth and get dressed for his dry land workout. The spouse has the sentimentality of a piece of wood. But that is not to say he is not sentimental, he doesn’t show it. His way of showing his affection is different. He does it by taking time out for the child, by being hands on in the child’s every day, taking him to swimming training, by getting him to work out, by supervising his diet and fitness, by making this time spent together bonding time between father and son. Frankly I am envious. I might have spawned the offspring but he has his long discussions with his father now, and through the medium of swimming, he learns life lessons, fighting spirit, never giving up, playing fair, challenging himself, and most of all, pushing his boundaries.
That is the way the spouse is. That is the kind of father he is. That is not the kind of father I knew.
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

When did saying hello go out of fashion...

My Parle G post for this week

When did saying hello go out of fashion?

Posted by Kiran Manral
The other day a group of the child’s friends came over home to play the PS3. I opened the door to them, they entered and went straight to his room and began back slapping, chatting with him. I looked down at myself to check if I was still present in the flesh and had not morphed into a creature of transparency without my permission. I was still stolid enough, all 60 plus kilos of me. So what is it about this batch of kids that made them forget the basic courtesy of greeting an adult they knew, I wondered.
When they emerged from the room, after playing I looked at each of them, assuming that now they would say a “Goodbye Aunty,” and make their way to the lift, but no, they looked right back at me, blankly, opened the door and moved to the life. I decided if not them, I should not forget my own manners and called after them, “Bye children.” They cast one horrified look at me and disappeared into the lift, like I might just decide to run after them, snarling, jaws dripping foam, ready to bite.
“What is it about your friends?” I turned on the child. “Have they not learnt basic manners? Don’t they say hello, good morning, good evening, good night anymore?”
The child shrugged. “It is not cool,” he said. I gasped in shock and sat down with a huge thump into the strategically placed armchair right behind me. It was no longer cool to be polite.
Read the rest here

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Of Pizza Parties and Healthy Tiffin boxes-My Parle G Post


Of pizza parties and healthy tiffin boxes

Posted by Kiran Manral
The boy and his friends decided to have themselves a pizza party. The menu, as is obvious when there are growing children involved, comprised more than just pizzas.
On the boy’s to bring to the party list was chicken lollipops. Now given that they are deep fried missiles of calorific bombing, I do tend to avoid these in his day-to-day diet. After all, he is training in competitive swimming and his diet is full and healthy and rather careful about the deep fried and the needless junk. He was delighted. Pizzas and chicken lollipops and samosas.
For a moment, the maternal heart sank like a stone to the floor. After all, it was only a year or so ago, that we took him to the paediatrician and decided to get him onto an exercise and healthy food regimen to get him off the real and present danger of veering into childhood obesity and getting into a healthy weight range for his age and height. And a year later we had achieved that, many diet and lifestyle changes later.
Nonetheless, this was a party and a treat. It was a one off. But there had been many such one-offs through the month. A birthday treat on his father’s birthday. A dinner with family when visiting them in another city. A meal at a restaurant after a long gruelling day at a swimming event. They all add up, I told myself. The calories deposit themselves in the body and multiply.
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Back to school for this generation-My Parle G Parent Quotient Post


Back to School in today’s generation

Posted by Kiran Manral
School shopping is no longer fun
We went school shopping the other day, and unlike the overwhelming excitement that consumed us when we were at school and went to get our school books, bags, uniforms and other such school essentials, the boy was rather blasé. Laid back infact about it all. It doesn’t help that the school now gives the books and the school bag which rather puts a dampener on the searching for the appropriate school bag with the right colour scheme, ideal number of pockets to put in decaying chocolates and earthworms picked up from the rainy streets in order to make his only mother get an immediate heart attack. Nope. Now that the school bag is mandated, the books handed over from the school, the focus of all the boy’s attention is on the accessories that make themselves essential part of the school routine, namely the water bottle, the tiffin box (errm, psst, make that two tiffin boxes for him but don’t tell him I told you) and the pencil box.
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Sunday, June 15, 2014

My Yowoto post for this week: Hey There! He’s Using WhatsApp

He hunches over that thing in his hand, reading each word so carefully as if he’s going to memorise each word for life. Unfortunately, it’s not a book, it’s my phone. And he isn’t hooked on to literature, he’s addicted to WhatsAp.

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6 Parenting lesons I learnt form my mother, my Parle G post for last week

Here are the six things my mother did when she was bringing me up that I am always grateful for. And I may not be able to do these very same things for my son, but I’m sure, I’ll get there someday.
Read the post here

Monday, June 02, 2014

When the boy becomes a bundle of contradictions. My Parle G post.

Now the boy is ten, he’s developed a rather Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde kind of split personality. Nope, not literally, but definitely in a more sinister way. He’s taking to being two faced. In public, I am to walk at a dignified two foot distance from him, and I suspect he might even be carrying a foot rule on his person to ensure the gap between the two of us stays constant through traffic and itinerant bovines meandering on the roads. In the privacy of one’s home, he is the most affectionate hugging and kissing child, constantly seeking me out for a hug or a kichu on the cheek, so much that I fear I will need an extra layer of skin to grow on my lips from constant kissing of the offspring’s proffered cheek.
I’m putting it down to growing up. To the almost a teen.  He’s almost a big boy and that’s causing the kind of hormonal surge that has him acting in ways that makes me question my parenting.
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When Mamma and Pappa are two very different kinds of parents. My Parle G post

So I’ve realised there is a distinct difference between the way Pappa parents the boy and I parent the boy, and right now from this vantage point it would seem like the twain will never meet.  The father disciplines with the iron grip and the firm eye, and I parent with the democratic attitude of explaining the pros and the cons and handing the decision of what needs to be done to the child, and then expecting him to face the consequences like a manling.
We’ve managed to get through ten years of bringing up the boy with our two very disparate styles without stepping on each other’s toes or getting into fistfights.
We have realised though, that parenting is not always about consensus and as long as we have the basic principles and value systems in place, the rest of it is always fluid and negotiable and we have, over the years, arrived at a tacit formula that works for us.
Read the rest of the post here.

Guess what, they still play kabaddi in the park. My Parle G post

With the summer holidays on, not for too long now though, the long days are being filled with more hours that go vacant than things to fill those hours, the kid is at a perpetual loss as to what to do with his time. There is only so much television, PS3 and reading a restless young lad can do before he starts gnawing at the curtains in frustration.
Which is why, the other day, when he went down to the park to play, I expected him to be back within the hour as usual, grumbling about how there was no one there and everyone was out at the malls or travelling on vacation or indulging in hedonistic violence and such. But when he didn’t return back home for a couple of hours, I was puzzled enough to call up the security and ask for him to despatched homewards. He arrived, pleasantly out of breath, dripping with sweat and was coated with what seemed like mud.
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Do your own work: Parent Quotient post

Now that the boy is ten years old and deciding that he is going to be in charge of his life, I have decided that he is going to prove that he can take charge of his life by taking charge of his room and all the contents therein. This has resulted in some hilarious situations where I’ve realised that half the trouble about being an adult is that you really don’t have someone else to blame your messes on. And you need to clear up yourself.
The boy is learning that, slowly and painfully. As part of his initiation into adulthood, which is still over a decade away, I have decided, in Cruella de Ville mom style, he will now officially take charge of certain chores around the house. These chores are his responsibility and he will be answerable if they aren’t done.
It is part of growing up, this and an essential part according to me. Unless a child is given responsibility how will he or she learn to take on responsibility.
Here’s what is on his to-do list.

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Whisper, don't shout they said. My Yowoto post for this week

In Defence Of The Loud, Ear-Piercing Bout Of Yelling!


“Whisper, not yell,” the article on parenting said. But would that even work, wonders this elephant mommy… 

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Words' Worth by Samarpita: #BookReview : Once Upon A Crush by Kiran Manral

Words' Worth by Samarpita: #BookReview : Once Upon A Crush by Kiran Manral: On the jacket: Rayna De has a lot of things going for her. Not that they're necessarily going well, of course. Her thirties are a...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014