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India: Natasha Kaplinsky sees our work first hand

Save the Children India hosted a visit for Justin Forsyth, Save the Children UK CEO, and Natasha Kaplinsky, a popular face on British television and a mother of two-year old and seven-month old baby.

Video:Natasha Kaplinsky meets baby Desire

Day 1: Delhi

Our first hop is to one of the biggest government healthcare facilities in the national capital, Safdarjung Hospital. After a formal introduction, the doctor took us on a guided tour of the medical ward for mothers and babies.

Natasha and Justin witnessed the birth of baby in the labour room, while we heard the first cry outside. Natasha came out of the room very emotional, “It’s just so overwhelming to see the birth of a new life,” she said.

We saw pre-term babies sleeping in their cribs when suddenly they all started crying in unison. We wondered why. The nurse there informed us it was their feeding time!

Day 2: Rajasthan

It was an early start for the team with two and a half hour drive to the nearest village in Rajasthan. Rajasthan is one of the states where far too many babies and children are dying from easily preventable and treatable illnesses, and nourishment of both mothers and babies are at an all time low.  Shockingly, 13 children die every hour in Rajasthan and only 27% children immunized.

They reached Tonk, a village in rural Rajasthan, where Save the Children runs a baby centre where mothers can take their children for advice on nutrition, and illnesses like diarrhoea and pneumonia. Unsurprisingly, the visit caused quite a stir in the village.

The team also visited a maternal and new born child survival programme with women health workers and midwives. Especially inspiring was Nameeta, 26, a health worker in Tonk helping 236 households. According to Justin’s tweet she’s a “community hero saving children and mums’ lives.”

Day 3: Delhi

It was a typical Delhi winter morning with thick fog when the team started. Sun broke into the haze only at 11:30. Winters are especially harsh for the poor in the capital with children often developing respiratory infections, which often lead to pneumonia.

However the weather did not deter the mothers and babies who were waiting their turn outside the Save the Children-run mobile health service. And the number of women kept growing.

The mobile health clinic has changed the lives of many living in the slums of Sanjay Colony on the North West margins of Delhi.

In winter Phool Kumari’s two-year-old daughter Manisha was troubled by pneumonia. The condition worsened and she had to be admitted to the hospital for a week to ten days. Thanks to the Mobile Health Clinic, she now knows how to read the first symptoms of pneumonia and visits the clinic where the child gets timely medical attention.

One Mobile Health Clinic reaches a population of 100,000.

We will soon have five more mobile clinics reaching out to many more living in the slums of Delhi, unreached by the healthcare services provided by the Indian government.

Three cheers!

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