Thursday 15 March 2012

An appeal from Child in Need India reveals "two Indias" - that of the privileged, and that of the poor

Child In Need India (CINI) has been working in India for nearly 40 years to combat the worst effects of poverty in a country where 6,000 children a day die from preventable causes such as malnutrition and women are 80 times more likely to die in childbirth than in the UK, according to  UNICEF research from 2009.

The charity's health workers identify pregnant women in poor districts who are at risk of developing complications during pregnancy or giving birth to severely malnourished children. Health workers dispense life-saving ante-natal advice to women and advise the family on creating nutritious meals on a tight budget. They also provide vaccinations and act as advocates to help women access the health and education services that they are entitled to in order to bring about long-term improvements in people’s lives.

This Mother’s Day, CINI hopes to raise enough funds through a charity appeal on Radio Four to support 1,000 women through their pregnancy upto their child’s second birthday through a sponsorship programme costing just £10 per month for 33 months - which add up to the first 1,000 days of a child's life.

Designer and entrepreneur Jade Jagger has recently been appointed as CINI’s celebrity ambassador. Speaking ahead of Mother’s Day, Jade said:
As a young mother [of two daughters], I’ve always been aware of the hardship other families endure and, of course, the potential dangers. CINI's work with pregnant women and children from the poorest families saves lives and there is no better time than Mother’s Day to highlight the fact that, for many women in India, childbirth can be a deadly experience without the right support.
You can read the pregnancy diaries and case studies of two Indian women on the CINI site, here.

The charity will broadcast an appeal read by Sir Mark Tully on BBC Radio Four this Mother's Day, Sunday 18th March, at 7.55am and 9.26pm and the following Thursday, 22nd March, at 3.27pm. Mark Tully is a patron of CINI and said his experience of travelling around India  had demonstrated the gaps in basic health care which resulted in many needless deaths. He added:

Conservative estimates show that one young woman in the prime of her life dies every seven minutes in India due to pregnancy-related complications.
CINI founder Dr Samir Chaudhuri, a paediatrician who set up the charity as a small clinic in Kolkatta in 1974, said it made him angry to see so many preventable deaths in his country. He said healthcare for the Indian poor was either unavailable or of poor quality and that illiteracy and poverty were also contributing factors in maternal and infant mortality. But why, in a country which is booming economically, are so many people dying from preventable causes? He says,

Today, there are two Indias. The India that is booming is literate and has the skills and capacity to generate wealth - their children won’t die. Then there is the other India, where there is malnutrition, illiteracy and poverty and there is no access to healthcare and nutrition.
In the UK, more than a century ago, the same situation existed with a ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ England separated by wealth. It was the industrial revolution, along with education and greater transparency which helped to close that gap and I believe the same thing will happen in India but it will take time - maybe another 20 years. I don’t think I will live to see it.

For my colleagues: call Ian Griggs on 07790 926 292 for more details or to arrange interviews.