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National Birth Defect Awareness Month 2024 Launched to Break Barriers and Support Children with Birth Defects

New Delhi: In a significant initiative, Dr. V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, inaugurated the National Birth Defect Awareness Month 2024 during a ceremony attended by Apurva Chandra, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Themed “Breaking Barriers: inclusive support for children with birth defects,” the month-long awareness campaign aims to shed light on prevention, early identification, and timely management of birth defects.

Dr. V K Paul commended the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana as an aspirational scheme that covers a significant portion of India’s health, emphasizing its potential impact on child health. He highlighted the Rashtriya Bal Swashtya Karyakram (RBSK) as a catalyst for child health, with over 160 crore children examined under the program. Dr. Paul expressed the need to address birth defects to reduce child mortality, underscoring the importance of the National Birth Defect Awareness Month in raising awareness for the cause.

Acknowledging the work of Mobile Health teams and District Early Interventions teams, Dr. Paul emphasized the need for more intensity and coverage to address the issue of birth defects effectively. He encouraged students to opt for Pediatrics in post-graduation to strengthen child health, noting that children are most vulnerable to defects detected at birth.

Dr. V K Paul highlighted the significance of Folic Acid supplementation, particularly for neural tube defects (NTDs), and stressed the importance of pre-pregnancy care for women. Factors such as nutritional status, BMI, Thyroid, and UTI should be considered for ensuring healthy childbirth, he added.

Apurva Chandra, Union Health Secretary, emphasized the early identification of birth defects, including Club Foot, Hearing impairments, retinal defects, and cleft lips, as these conditions can impact a child’s future. He expressed optimism about the month-long awareness campaign playing a crucial role in addressing the issue of birth defects.

The ceremony also witnessed the felicitation of good-performing States/UTs for their achievements in implementing the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram. The emphasis on early identification and comprehensive care reflects the government’s commitment to ensuring the well-being of children and addressing birth defects proactively.

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