Early Childhood in India: Factors Influencing Children՚s Health (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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Factors Influencing Children՚s Health

Health is a mix of physical strength, alertness, emotional, mental and social wellbeing that enables us to live a full life. It is the absence of disease, and an active and functional being. By immunizing them against disease, we take preventive action to promote health.

Hygiene (Self and Environmental)

  • Hygiene is the practice of keeping oneself and the surroundings clean to prevent illness or spread of disease. For environmental hygiene, we must ensure there is no stagnant water and drinking water is covered at home, in school or in the workplace.
  • Personal hygiene includes washing hands after using the toilet, brushing teeth twice daily, bathing, washing hair, wearing clean clothes, cutting nails, covering the mouth while coughing, covering the nose while sneezing etc. Unhygienic conditions spread infection.

Sanitation Practices

Sanitation refers to public health conditions related to water and adequate treatment and disposal of excreta and sewage. Sanitation systems aim to protect human health by providing a clean environment that will stop the transmission of disease, especially through the fecal or oral route.

Nutrition

Food is needed to perform daily routine body functions, for its growth, fighting diseases, healing and maintenance. In case, there is nutritional deficiency for longer periods of time, it may affect the health and growth of the child. Statistics indicate that many children lack adequate nutrition. Good health is hugely dependent on children՚s intake of a balanced diet.

Nutrition: Food
  • A variety of foods in correct portions makes up nutrition for the child. Children need nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, fat, minerals, vitamins, fiber and water. Age-wise dietary nutritional requirements guidelines are prescribed and are known as Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) . Malnutrition refers to the deficiencies or imbalances in an individual՚s intake of nutrients.

Immunization

  • Immunization, also popularly called vaccination, helps to protect us from getting any infectious disease. It helps us in controlling and eliminating infections. The most recent example is the elimination of polio. There are vaccinations available for different infections like, tetanus, BCG, OPV, hepatitis B, Diphtheria, Tetanus & Pertussis (DPT) , HiB, typhoid, Rota virus, vitamin A and measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) etc.
  • These vaccines are to be administered at fixed timings to the pregnant woman, infants and children for which a schedule has been prescribed by the government. Parental awareness will help build a healthy nation.

Maternal Health

  • Maternal health refers to the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. While motherhood is often a positive and fulfilling experience, for many women it is associated with suffering, ill-health and even death. According to the United Nations Children՚s Fund (UNICEF) , at least 20 % of the disease burden in children less than five years is related to problems in maternal health and malnutrition, as well as the quality of care at delivery and during the newborn period.
  • Moreover, a baby whose mother dies during childbirth is less likely to survive, and children who lost their mothers are 10 times more likely to die within two years of the death of their mothers.
  • Mothers are most vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy and up to two years after childbirth. It is proven that nutrition interventions offer children the best chance to survive and reach optimal growth and development. After that the window closes, the damage to children is largely irreparable.

Child Vis-A-Vis the Indian Constitution and Provisions

  • The Constitution of India came into force on 26 January 1950. The Constitution establishes the basic rights and duties of the citizens of the nation. All citizens have to agree and abide by them. Given below are some of the constitutional provisions related to children and education.
  • To uplift disadvantaged sections, the Constitution of India, allows affirmative action through positive discrimination (reservations) in education and employment, which is based on caste plus socio-economic backwardness. These reservations are restricted to government run or government-aided institutions and not to the private sector.

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