Why is the first 1,000 days of life significant for a child’s development? How can the frontline workers, like the ASHAs, help deliver necessary interventions during this crucial time period?

The most effective set of measures for decreasing child mortality, avoiding malnutrition, and determining cognitive development is optimal maternal nutrition and child feeding.

Status of Child health in India:

  • The National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) report raises concerns about child nutrition.
  •  36% of children throughout all of India have stunted growth, 
  • 19% of kids experience wasting. 
  • 32% of children are underweight.

Why first 1000 days are crucial:

  • Particularly, the first 1,000 days of life are crucial for maintaining good development, infant survival, and lifelong health and nutrition.
  • Indeed, the first 1,000 days of life account for 80% of brain development.

Role of ASHA:

  • Empowering frontline health professionals who are responsible for mother and child nutrition and development outcomes at the last mile is essential for improving child and maternal health.
  • The nutrition system must be strengthened by frequent skilling, supportive supervision, and encouragement of frontline workers to offer contextualized, targeted, and high-quality nutrition and health services. 
  • The frontline workers are essential and make a significant contribution to community health because they have a deeper awareness of the problems and demands at the local level. 
  • Consequently, it is crucial to support those on the front lines who are pushing change in the final mile.

Way forward:

ASHA personnel are often the only source of basic nutrition and other health services in many areas. They play a vital role in raising awareness, supporting local initiatives, and promoting healthy behaviors.

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