Sunil Patil works as a community mobilizer for Action Against Hunger India, and during his field visit to Chinchutara, he came across a newborn baby’s lactating mother, Sudheshna Vargi (name changed), who was visiting from another village. Sunil later visited Sudeshna’s home as part of his work and spoke with her about a variety of topics during his initial visit. During the conversation, Sunil learned that Sudeshna had given birth to a baby boy in a rural hospital in Mokhada, and that the baby weighed only 1.8 kg. Sudeshna expressed her concern about her baby’s low weight. It was established that the baby’s health was in poor condition, and there was a risk of further deterioration if his condition remained unaddressed.
Sunil and the Anganwadi workers attempted to persuade the baby’s mother and grandmother to take the newborn to the district hospital for a health checkup, where the SDH had a Special Newborn Care Unit (SNCU). But the family refused to take the child to Jawhar. Sunil then advised the caregivers to go to Morhanda Primary Health Centre (PHC) at the very least. This was when Sunil discovered that Sudeshna was to visit the Morhanda PHC a day before his visit. However, she had to wait for a vehicle for more than three hours and ultimately missed the appointment. However, caregivers were willing to carry the newborn to Morhanda PHC, the following day. On returning from the field, Sunil inquired about an ambulance. However, none was available. This was when the Action Against Hunger field officer arranged for a private vehicle, enabling the caregivers to take the newborn to the hospital.
The medical officer examined the newborn and advised the caregivers to take the child to Jawhar SDH. The following day, an ambulance was arranged from Aase PHC by the field supervisor, field officer, and ASHA worker. The newborn was admitted to SNCU in Jawhar sub-district hospital. The baby’s father was also present at the time of admission. The child was admitted to Jawhar SDH’s SNCU for three days. Every day, Sunil diligently followed up with the caregivers. On the day of discharge, the field officer urged Jawhar SDH staff to provide an ambulance so that the caregivers could safely travel to their home in Chinchutara – more than 40 km away. For three months, AAH provided food baskets to caregivers. Sunil also visited their home and counselled them on breastfeeding, hygiene, and other newborn care practices.
Later on, Sunil recorded the baby’s weight and it improved to reach 6.0 kg. The case story demonstrates the impact of strong convergence and local coordination between our organisation and the Government functionaries. It was a successful attempt that eventually saved a newborn’s life and restored caregiver’s confidence in improving the health and nutrition of a newborn.