It is a well-observed and accepted fact that a person of good health is not seen shrinking her/his duties. Every individual aim for a sound mind in a sound body. But, a state of physical, mental and social well-being is not universal in the country and been dependent over intersectionality of many factors like caste, class, gender, ethnicity etc. Health is a broader concept and must be understood through various dimensions and parameters. This piece of writing bourns to put forward the status of health of Assam through the lens of a child and maternal health. The well-being of the mothers and the children has been ensnaring many researchers and organisations working in the public health sectors along with the efforts initiated by the government.
As per the National Family Health Survey, Assam shows dismal picture regarding indicators of child and maternal health. Many of the maternal and child health problems can be attributed to early marriage, and the data of National Family Health Survey-4 validates the relation as 33.9% of the women in Assam aged between 20-24 years of age are married before 18 years of age. The consequence of early marriage is being more compounded as only 52.4% of the women in the state use family planning methods. And the efforts initiated towards by the heath system for achieving good family health planning results seems to be far from adequate as only 17.2% of the total women not using any method for family planning has been ever talked/contacted by the health workers. The data from the survey reveals that the Infant Mortality Rate and Under Five mortality rate per 1000 live births has decreased from the National Family Health Survey-3, however figuring at 48 and 56 against the national average of 41 and 50 making Assam one of the poor performing states in the nation in terms of the two indicators. Statistics show that only 16.6% of the rural woman and 18.1% of the total woman as a whole receives full antenatal care. This is an indication that there lies a robust scope for the better implementation of the health services for the pregnant mothers of the state. The state (70.6%) lacks behind the national average (78.9%) in terms of institutional births. So, the health system needs to identify and bridge the gap between the people and the institutional delivery mechanisms. At times, when the nation is running such a huge scale programme like ICDS which aims at universal immunization only 47.1.0% of the children aged between 12-23 months are being fully immunized against the national average of 62.0. Another shocking data the survey reveals is that only 36.4% of the children in the state are stunted (height for age). These are few of the many indicators which show the dismal picture of the mothers and children in the state. If the slogan of Joi Aai Axom has to be realised and make Assam one of the prosperous places in the nation, serious interventions and developments need to emerge in the health system. And failing to do such, the status wellbeing of the mothers and children in the state looks doubtful.
Writer- Aniruddha Bora, MA in Social Work in Children and Families, TISS Mumbai (2013-15), Presently working in Public Health Resource Network (PHRN)