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Dr VK Paul, Member NITI Aayog launches National Birth Defect Awareness Month 2024

The birth defects awareness campaign focussed on awareness about prevention, early identification and timely management

Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog launched the National Birth Defect Awareness Month 2024 in the presence of Apurva Chandra, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The theme of National Birth Defect Awareness Month 2024 is “Breaking Barriers: inclusive support for children with birth defects.” The birth defects awareness campaign focussed on awareness about prevention, early identification and timely management.

Dr Paul lauded Rashtriya Bal Swashtya Karyakram which is proving to be a catalyst in child health. He said, “160 crore children have been examined under the programme and it is a guarantee for child health.” He appreciated the work of mobile health teams and District Early Interventions teams for ensuring child health and reaching the hinterlands for the successful implementation of RBSK.

Dr Paul said that there is a need to address birth defects to lower child mortality, though the ratio of birth defects’ mortality is less compared to deaths caused by malaria, pneumonia and other diseases. He said, “Under Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram our priority is to achieve complete health for children and this National Birth Defect Awareness Month 2024 campaign would be a catalyst in raising awareness for the cause.”

Dr Paul also urged students to opt for paediatrics in PG to support and strengthen child health as children are most vulnerable to defects detected at birth. “Even the family feel isolated knowing the issues of birth defects. These will be addressed through this campaign”, he said. “Particularly for neural tube defect (NTDs), the modality of Folic Acid supplementation works immensely. The time has come that we need to take Folic acid supplementation to the highest level.” 

“Pre-pregnancy care is significant for a woman, nutritional status, BMI, Thyroid and UTI etc. should also be taken care of as this would help in healthy childbirth,” he added.

Chandra emphasised on early identification of birth defects especially club foot, hearing impairments, retinal defects, cleft lips etc. as these impair a child’s future. Elated with the campaign, he said this month-long awareness campaign will be instrumental in addressing the childbirth defects issue. “Keeping a registry of child birth defects through the ABHA can play a significant role in keeping records of children treated or not treated and further actions can be steered accordingly in identification and treatment,” he added.

The campaign is an effort to observe Birth Defect Day, which is observed on March 3 every year and National Birth Defect Awareness Month is an initiative to raise awareness for all birth defects and improve the care and treatment for children. The month-long activities are planned under Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram of the Child Health division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) to create nationwide awareness at the community level.

 

 

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