India is home to the largest population of malnourished and hunger-stricken people and children leading to high infant and maternal mortality.
Along with these issues are a deluge of problems ranging from diseases, lack of education, lack of hygiene, illness, etc.
To combat this situation, the Government of India in 1975 initiated the Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) scheme which operates at the state level to address the health issues of small children, all over the country.
They provide services to villagers, poor families and sick people across the country helping them access healthcare services, immunization, healthy food, hygiene, and provide healthy learning environment for infants, toddlers and children.
From shaming the defecators, convincing the women of the house, to citing the sacred texts that emphasized cleanliness and took the sanitary hygiene of the village to much higher level than one can imagine. So far 200 kitchen garden initiatives have been undertaken where Anganwadi workers will be trained in laying the gardens and growing crops, on one cent of land allotted to them. With minimum qualification to boot, an Anganwadi worker is deemed wise in the ways of the village and in the duties that she performs.
Their understanding, communication skills and approach is needed to implement the grand projects of the state and central Governments, making them the most vital link in delivering the ‘health for all’ mission.
Today in India, about 2 million aanganwadi workers are reaching out to a population of 70 million women, children and sick people, helping them become and stay healthy.
Anganwadi workers are the most important and oft-ignored essential link of Indian healthcare.