By Mohini Daljeet Singh
‘The future of the nation is in the hands of the children’- Every aspect of this statement is true. For us to be able to ensure a better tomorrow for the children in this country, giving them a healthy up-bringing today, is of utmost importance. The economic benefits of investing in children have been extensively documented. Investing fully in children today will ensure the well-being and productivity of future generations for decades to come. By contrast, the physical, emotional and intellectual impairment that poverty inflicts on children can mean a lifetime of suffering and want – and a legacy of poverty for the next generation. Children’s environmental health activities have multiple links with other parallel activities, such as environmental protection, climate change adaptation, primary health care, specialized hospital-based health care, emergency response, disaster risk reduction, school activities and housing initiatives, and many other activities. It thus becomes clear that collaborative links have to be set up for each one of the objectives in this plan.
According to the statistics provided by the World Health Organization (WHO):
Each year around three million children under the age of five die due to environment-related diseases
Acute respiratory infections annually kill an estimated 1.6 million children under the age of five. As much as 60 percent of acute respiratory infections worldwide are related to environmental conditions
Diarrhoeal diseases claim the lives of nearly 1.5 million children every year. Eighty to 90 percent of these diarrhoea cases are related to environmental conditions, in particular, contaminated water and inadequate sanitation
Nearly 1 million children under the age of five died of malaria in 2008(numbers have gone down by 2013 though). Up to 90 percent of malaria cases are attributed to environmental factors
The foremost important thing in the development of a child’s future is to give him/her good health. A child free of all chronic diseases is rising towards a healthy tomorrow. While children’s welfare and quality healthcare is an important issue worldwide, it is not considered as important an issue in India. India has certain problem areas when it comes to children welfare. Firstly, poverty plays a huge rule in impacting the lifestyle of children and underprivileged sects of the society. Secondly, lack of funds to facilitate quality healthcare services, a sustainable/eco – friendly environment, a healthy upbringing. Thirdly and probably the major one is lack of education. The weaker segment of society which is largely populated is illiterate and thus unable to see the importance of good health for their families and children. There are several initiatives taken up by the government and private organizations to address these issues but the number of participants/contributors is very less.
The society at large needs to learn how to nourish, encourage and empower the children now, to help them thrive and grow into confident, healthy and strong adults, in the times to come. Both the public and private sector and citizens of the country need to come together and work towards the betterment of the future of this country. It is not the case that one specific NGO or foundation can bring all the desired changes in the society.
Keeping in mind the challenges faced by our country with respect to healthcare and welfare of underprivileged segment of the society, Max India Foundation (MIF), the CSR arm of Max India Group laid down its foundation in 2008. Max India Foundation spearheads the Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives of Max India Group of Companies. Social initiatives for Max Life Insurance, Max Healthcare, Max Speciality Films, Max Bupa and Max India Corporate are planned and executed through the Foundation. MIF’s mission is to provide quality healthcare to the underprivileged and facilitate awareness of health related issues and an eco-friendly environment.
This is done by engaging Max Group employees and partnering with reputed NGOs in the execution of projects. This achieves a strong spirit of bonding between employees within a company and between the different companies of the group. Completing six years of operations in January 2014, Max India Foundation has proved its track record and emerged as a role-leader in the healthcare CSR space. Max India Foundation has created a niche for itself among the CSR wings of Corporates. The Foundation’s main focus areas are:
Providing quality healthcare for people of the economically weaker section of society
Creating awareness on Health issues such as women’s health, cancer, diabetes,cardiovascular diseases and immunisation of children
Working towards a sustainable and eco-friendly environment
Max India Foundation supports programmes that facilitate quality healthcare for the underprivileged population. To achieve this, we have joined hands with similar spirited organizations covering a wide spectrum of initiatives. Some of these initiatives include:-
Surgeries and Treatments – MIF has sponsored 3537 high-end surgeries of which a large number are paediatric cardiac surgeries, brain tumour surgeries, reconstructive surgeries, neuro surgeries, orthopaedic surgeries, cataract surgeries, oncology care and renal transplant
Pan India Immunization –MIF’s Pan-India Immunization program reaches out to remote areas and focuses on underprivileged children between 0-12 years of age, by organizing camps with local NGOs, their empanelled doctors and volunteers. To date, 38626 children benefited through 71844 shots in 588 camps and we have covered 161 locations across the country
Health Camps –MIF organizes Multi-Speciality camps for the underprivileged in various semi-urban andrural locations, including the remote areas of Ladakh where there is no access to specialized medical treatment. Poor patients are screened and given free medicines. To date 71687 patients have been treated through 217 camps
Artificial Limbs And Polio Calipers Camp –Artificial Limbs and Polio Calipers camp is an annual feature of MIF. Max India Foundation organized its 6th Artificial Limbs and Polio Calipers camp at Sohana. 127 polio calipers, 112 artificial limbs, 48 crutches and 3 modified shoes were given to the needy people. The prosthetics were manufactured at the camp site.To date MIF has sponsored 3467 Artificial Limbs and Polio Calipers
Creating a world that is truly fit for children does not imply simply the absence of war. It means having the confidence that our children would not die of measles or malaria. It means having access to clean water and proper sanitation. It means having primary schools nearby that educate children, free of charge. It means changing the world with children, ensuring their right to participate, and that their views are heard and considered. It means building a world fit for children, where every child can grow to adulthood in health, peace and dignity.
Facilitating awareness about the deadly diseases, health related issues, the right vaccinations available to fight them and other important immunizations among the underprivileged sect of society should be focused upon, by and large by all organizations, groups of people working towards betterment of children, NGOs and big corporates. Providing quality healthcare and creating a sustainable and eco-friendly environment for the children is surely a very important task for anyone wishing for a better tomorrow.
( Mohini Daljeet Singh is the Chief Executive at Max India Foundation)