“Humare liye Poshan Prerak didi vardan roop thi”, says Laxmi Devi (name changed), a beneficiary from Sarai Mubarak, a small village in Ghazipur. Ghazipur’s villages were amongst 187 villages from 10 different states which were covered under the programme of Community Dialogues on POSHAN Abhiyaan themes. Laxmi, now a mother of a month-old infant, was pregnant while community dialogues on POSHAN Abhiyaan were conducted in her village by Poshan Prerak Vandana Tiwari. POSHAN Abhiyaan is the Government of India’s flagship programme to improve nutritional standards among pregnant women, lactating mothers, infants, children and adolescents.
During one of the dialogues on maternal and neo-natal care, the Prerak enquired about the visible swelling on her hands and face after observing for a while. “I would see her come regularly for every dialogue. Generally, pregnant women do show some signs of swelling but her case was extraordinary,” Prerak said.
“It was later found that she used to like and eat earthen pots and bricks as she was weirdly attracted towards the smell of fresh soil,” she added.
Since Laxmi participated in maximum of these dialogues, the Prerak ensured that she adheres to the POSHAN guidelines and followed it up with her on a regular basis to avoid her habit of consuming earthen items. Laxmi was informed that intake of iron tablets along with calcium is important for survival as iron deficiency may lead to miscarriage.
Laxmi Devi then visited a front line health worker (in this case ASHA) of her village, who had also participated in the POSHAN dialogues, for the provision of free iron tablets i.e. red colour iron folic acid tablets. She later became regular with the tablets and avoided eating earthen items and after completion of her pregnancy, delivered a healthy baby girl weighing three kilograms.
She recalls the birth of her first healthy child: “Something moved inside me while the doctor examined and appreciated my health. I was told it’s a rare case in this village where a healthy mother gave birth to a healthy baby. I am eager to share the information I gained from these dialogues further to everyone, especially to the women of my village so that everyone witnesses a healthy baby.”