Monthly Archives: April 2021

Asha COVID-19 Emergency Response: Asha follows stricter protocols amidst the second wave of Covid-19 in India

Dr Kiran: ”Hello everyone, here’s a Covid update from me:

The number of cases are surging, with India reporting about 293,000 cases and Delhi 25000 cases in the past 24 hours. Delhi has the maximum number of cases in the country.

There is a huge shortage of hospital beds, Oxygen and Remdesivir. Labs are accepting samples for RT- PCR far above capacity, and as a result, reports are being returned after 4-5 days. Young adults are turning Covid positive in this wave.

There is major vaccine shortage, and at the same time, a great deal of vaccine hesitancy. It’s really hard to convince slum residents to get vaccinated due to myths and superstitions around the vaccine.

The surge in cases is attributed to a combination of the highly infectious mutant strain B.1.617, and the large crowds gathered at election rallies, religious festivals and family events.

We are going to follow stricter protocols at Asha. Every Asha team member and warrior will wear N 95 masks and patrol the streets and lanes to make sure strict Covid protocols are observed everywhere. The expert panel of the government is encouraging double masking for the general population. We will be following the same protocols.

The Asha team is trying its utmost to get everyone vaccinated. I’m sure we will be able to increase the pace when members of the community observe that those vaccinated are not demonstrating any serious side effects.”

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Asha team assists slum dwellers to their nearest vaccination centers

Dr Kiran: ”Dear friends, the Asha team and volunteers have been working exceedingly hard to convince those eligible to take the vaccine. They accompany them to the nearest vaccination center.

One one hand there is vaccine hesitancy around myths and superstitions, and on the other hand, there is a shortage of vaccines. Many vaccination centers run out of them quickly and there is none left when patients are convinced with great difficulty by the Asha Team.”

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Asha’s Maternal Care Program has achieved high success in Asha slums

I remember one day I was in Trilokpuri slum community. It was in the year 1991. A woman who was in labor was brought to my clinic. She was bleeding heavily and was in shock. I learnt that she had been given an injection of oxytocin by a local quack to hasten labor. Her uterus had ruptured because of that. I asked the family to rush her to the hospital emergency. Sadly both the mother and the baby died.

During those years I saw many pregnant mothers who hadn’t received any antenatal care, and developed complications such as eclampsia from high blood pressure, bleeding due to a variety of causes, infections after childbirth because local untrained midwives did deliveries, complications during delivery and so on.

It was heartbreaking to witness mothers and babies dying just because mothers hadn’t received good antenatal care and the opportunity for safe deliveries. Such situations would be extremely rare in Western countries. Most deaths were definitely preventable or treatable.

The Maternal Mortality Rate was 750 for every 100,000 live births, one of the highest in the world.

We did not have a single Maternal Death at Asha last year, and this has been the case in the past few years.

Every mother has the right to experience the unimaginable joy when her newborn baby is placed in her arms, right? Instead it was a terrifying experience for them in the slums. In addition, there was the burden placed on giving the family a son.

I am so glad that together we are providing high quality maternal care to all Asha expectant mothers, and tracking them all through their pregnancy, childbirth, and during the postnatal period. Asha has trained hundreds of midwives over the years.

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy.

They are registered early, looked after throughout their pregnancy, every patient gets ultrasounds and blood and other tests. Asha CHV’s and Volunteers give lessons on Maternal and Newborn Health.

Postnatal visits are made by the Asha Team at home immediately after birth, and Asha team members help the mother to initiate breast feeding. The mother and baby are examined well as per the Asha protocols.

The Asha baby is registered straightaway and tracked and taken care of all the way until the age of five.

The Neonatal Mortality Rate of Asha is 11 for every 1000 live births in comparison with 23 for India as a whole.

What a wonderful opportunity to reflect on these achievements on the occasion of World Health Day!

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Asha celebrates ‘World Health Day’

Hello friends, yesterday was World Health Day. The improvements in health of those placed under Asha’s care over the years have been dramatic. I think we have a lot to celebrate as we think of what has been achieved.

4 out of 5 children were not only malnourished, but had protein and micronutrient deficiency.

Thousands of children under Asha’s care are now healthy for age.

Asha’s vaccination program protects children against Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Poliomyelitis, Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid Fever. The vaccination coverage is 100%.

Wonderful Asha news on World Health Day! More news to follow.

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Asha’s Zinc Supplementation Program successfully improves the health of children in the slums

Dr Kiran: “I remember in the early years of Asha I would see so many young children with deficiency of the vital mineral Zinc, something that is extremely rare in Western countries. The diet of these young children was highly deficient in Zinc, which is mainly found in seafood, meat, poultry, nuts and seeds, milk and milk products, and some vegetables and legumes.

Families were too poor to afford these foods. Malabsorption of zinc due to diarrhea was another major cause among young children.

This deficiency showed itself as a weakened immune system resulting in children getting frequent bouts of diarrhea, lower respiratory tract infections, malaria and other parasitic infestations.

I also noticed scanty hair growth and thinning of hair in young children. Many were moderately to severely stunted.

I also saw some rare cases of skin infections.

I began a Zinc Supplementation Program for all children from 6 months to 5 years of age, making sure they received 3-5mg of Zinc per day based on their age.

Later the WHO protocols included it as a part of treatment for diarrhea in children. Asha immediately began following this WHO protocol.

During the pandemic, the diet has been terribly deficient in Zinc among adults. Therefore I began Zinc supplements for pregnant mothers, malnourished women and girls, and the elderly.

Over the years, the supplementation of Zinc became a major contributor to fall in infant and child mortality rates, healthy weight and height, and much lower prevalence of diarrheal illness and pneumonia.

Every Asha child is tracked by the Team, the CHV’s and Volunteers, making sure that each child receives Zinc supplements and that no child is left behind.

Thank you to each one of you for helping us protect our children from the deficiency of Zinc that has serious consequences for children. This intervention has been critical during the pandemic with families experiencing food insecurity.”

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Asha provides Vitamin A doses to young children in the slums with deficiency

Hello folks, In the early years of Asha, I remember seeing shocking symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency in young children. These symptoms were due to severe forms of Vitamin A deficiency.

I saw children becoming blind at night, and this was followed by complete blindness due to melting and dying of the cornea.

This was because the extreme poverty meant that their diet was severely deficient in Vitamin A rich foods. These are meat, fish, eggs and dairy products that of course slum residents could never afford to consume. It is also found in red and yellow vegetables and fruits. However, slum residents rarely eat a variety of fruits. The only source I saw possible was Carrots and Spinach.

Children with dry eyes, an inflamed skin, dead corneas, frequent respiratory infections, stunting, eczema, and women not able to have babies was a common occurrence.

I soon began a Vitamin A Prophylaxis Program which meant giving children between 1-5 years of age 200,000 International Units of Vitamin A every six months. Along with this, I also began to give deworming medicines ( broad spectrum) because I saw children with many different types of worm infestations.

It is such a critically important intervention, and every single Asha child is registered on the program, receiving timely doses.

From those days when Vitamin A deficiency needed me to give children emergency Vitamin A injections to prevent them from getting blind, I have seen remarkable progress, with the Asha children all being shielded from the terrible effects of Vitamin A deficiency.

However, we must continue our efforts with urgency because the diet of the residents, specially during the pandemic with all their financial troubles, are highly deficient in Vitamin A.

Deficiency of this vitamin is rarely seen in developed countries.

Thank you to everyone of you for helping us save the eyes of our children. It is my hope that you will continue to raise resources so we can make sure each Asha child is looked after with loving concern and deep compassion.

Here are some pictures of Asha team members giving Vitamin A to our children.

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