Child Health Finally in Radar of Mainstream Political Parties
Even as the 2014 elections get underway, child rights activists are celebrating the fact that political parties across the board have, for the first time, accorded special status to child health and nutrition in their manifestos.
Issues like child health, nutrition, protection as well as education, which never made it to the manifesto documents, have now found prominent space in the action plans of the mainstream political parties.
Interestingly, most of these poll pledges, though made at national levels, are of significance to Odisha where child and reproductive health has been a matter of grave concern.
The Congress has proposed to bring in the Right to Health and has pledged for universal health care by earmarking 3 per cent of the GDP for it. Better access to health care through mobile health vans, more coverage through Rashtriya Swasthya Yojna, institutional deliveries, malnutrition and anaemia in girls, improving MMR and IMR have found place in the party’s manifesto.
The grand old party has also targeted capacity building of primary health worker, improved toilets in every household and schools and adequate compensation for Asha workers as part of the manifesto.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), child health organisations say, has focused on issue of anaemia and will implement models with thrust on child health and prevention. The saffron party’s manifesto talks about school health programme as a major focus area while making health and hygiene a part of school curriculum.
The BJP also lays emphasis on programmes for women healthcare in a mission mode, focusing on nutrition and pregnancy. It talks about emphasis on rural areas, marginalised sections, including SCs, STs and OBCs. The party has also pledged to review, amend and strengthen the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 2012 and Integrated Child Protection Scheme.
The BJP has also laid special emphasis on vulnerable children, mostly those belonging to communities like migrants, slum dwellers, street dwellers and those with disabilities. It has called for a comprehensive scheme by incorporating best practices from successful programmes like like Balika Samruddhi, Ladli Laxmi Chiranjeevi Yojana. Its document also speaks of strict implementation of laws related to women, particularly those related to rape.
Left parties like CPM have pledged 5 per cent of the GDP on health care, higher allocation to ICDS and mid day meal schemes and food entitlement with assured nutrition for pregnant and lactating women. The CPI, on its part, has laid emphasis on ending malnutrition among women and children, arrest of declining child sex ratio.
New political parties like Aam Aadmi Party too talk of comprehensive legislation on right to health care and improvement in health care facilities and more spending on education, said an activist.