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Church takes lead on health issues
Most kids and women in the country suffer from anemia
- Rita Joseph, New Delhi
- April 7, 2011
The federal government accords health-related issues a low priority, so the Church has taken a major step by empowering grass-root people to get their rights to food, health and education.
The Church is the second largest health provider after the government and has always been in the forefront in the fight against malnutrition, says Father Mathew Abraham, Secretary, Health Care, Catholic Bishopâ€™s Conference of India (CBCI).
According to a recent study by Harvard School of Public Health, malnutrition in children under 3 is on the rise.
The health sector is dominated by private players. Almost 80 percent are private-owned hospitals and beyond the reach of the poor, he says.
â€śChristians are just under two per cent of the population. Yet we are doing our best,â€ť says Father Abraham.
The Christian Health Association of India has a network of 3,306 hospitals and clinics throughout the country.
â€ś We liase with the government to help in the implementation of National Rural Health Mission, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the National Revised Tubercuolosis Program and the likeâ€ť.
Swami Agnivesh, a social activist and anti-child labor campaigner, says the minimum wage should be increased to a decent level and the poor given purchasing power, if the situation is to improve.
Father Charles Irudayam, secretary of CBCIâ€™s Justice, Peace and Development Commission, says since March, 2008 the commission has been working hard to provide food security to the poor in 20 Indian states.
The CBCI disseminates information on child, women and pension rights and other government schemes. Â Over a three-year period it has trained 37,700 field workers, including 29,000 women, for the purpose.
The Harvard study analysed economic and childrenâ€™s growth pattern based onÂ three National Family Health Surveys (1992-2006) which had revealed that 70 per cent of the children in the 6-59 months age group and 55 per cent of women in India are anemic.
Father Abraham concluded that society, all religions and NGOs should work together to mitigate the problem.
Christian health workers offer cautious welcome to federal health policy