Aayushi: Reducing the mortality rate of under-5 children in the Dhod block of Sikar district

Aayushi is The Antara Foundation’s program in the Dhod block of Sikar district, Rajasthan and has been envisioned to significantly reduce under-5 child mortality rate. The program is run with the generous support of Bajaj Auto Limited through its CSR initiatives, as part of the Bajaj Group’s quest for nation building.

Sikar, with a population of 2.67 million, is ranked 25th out of 33 districts in Rajasthan on health parameters. The percentage of live births in Sikar is among the lowest (92.7) in the state while it is in the top quartile in terms of number of pregnancies. Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) for Sikar is higher than state average while sex ratio and breastfeeding practices are significantly below state average. In fact, exclusive breast feeding is as low as 20.3%. These facts indicate a clear need for improvements in MCH through strategic technical and managerial interventions.

The Antara Foundation’s Aayushi program operates in the Dhod block in Sikar and implements our model of bringing in innovative, low-cost, scalable innovations to healthcare in partnership with the government system. On the supply side, we implement the AAA platform, Facilities Strengthening, and Skills Building interventions that have already been proven in our Akshada program. The program also envisions enhancement of Anganwadi centres to include quality crèche services. Thus, it addresses the critical 1000-day phase from pregnancy till the child turns two, and goes a step beyond.

The AAA platform achieves effective coordination between front-line health workers (ASHAs, Anganwadi Workers and ANMs) through a scientific process of focus area mapping and periodic meetings to review, plan and learn.

Front line workers would also be provided skill development training and armed with technological solutions to boost effectiveness. Further, attention is focussed on improvement of physical equipment, knowledge and skills at delivery points through assessments and training sessions.

In addition to the above-mentioned supply side initiatives, Aayushi sees active engagement of the community as vital for healthier outcomes. Towards this end, the program seeks to engage communities in a participative learning process through community group meetings.

Thus, by aiding front-line workers to improve their effectiveness and actively engaging with the community, Aayushi intends to contribute to a happier Sikar through healthier mothers & children.