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The Times of India
01 April 2013
Pune, India

The state health department is set to screen over 1.95 crore children below 18 years of age across the state and provide free follow-up treatments if required through district and tertiary level hospitals as part of a new scheme under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).

Called the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK), the scheme, with an estimated state budget of Rs 130 crore for 2013-14, will be formally launched at Palghar, a tribal block in Thane, on Wednesday.

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Children found suffering from any kind of disease/deficiency/disability will be directed to experts for follow up treatment under the scheme.

"The programme includes child health screening and early intervention, assuring a package of health services for all children up to 18 years of age. Children will be checked for defects at birth, diseases, deficiencies and developmental disorders," said Vikas Kharge, state mission director, NRHM.

The scheme aims to go beyond the objective of helping children survive to make further progress in child development, he added.

Presently, children in the age-group of 0-6 years are examined in anganwadis by medical officers of primary health centres (PHC), while the children from 6 to 18 years are covered under the school health programme.

"With RBSK, all children up to 18 years will be under one umbrella. This initiative will be helpful for improving the health of our children attending anganwadis and schools as well as those outside it and will ultimately result in reducing the child mortality and morbidity to a great extent as a dedicated team will be examining them," Kharge said.

The programme would reach out to newborns, both at public health facilities as well as at home. "For this purpose, dedicated teams are established at district level. Each team comprises two medical officers (one male and one female), one auxiliary nurse (ANM) and a pharmacist. The team is provided with one hired vehicle, medicines and equipment for children's health check-up," Kharge said.

"The children are screened for disease, deficiencies and disabilities and are referred to higher centers for further investigations and treatment as per requirement. The launching of the national level comprehensive child health check-up programme will be inaugurated at Palghar on Wednesday," he added.

The screening includes general medical check-up, referral, treatment of minor ailments and health education. The follow up specialty check-up will be carried out by dental surgeon, ENT surgeon, ophthalmologist and paediatrician. Prevention and management of haematological diseases like sickle cell disease, thalassemia and haemophilia disorders will be taken care of under the scheme. Care of malnourished children below six years of age is one of the objectives of the scheme.

Epilepsy and other neurological diseases check-up and follow-up will also be taken care of. Tertiary care services, heart diseases and general surgery check-up will also be carried out as part of the programme. Facilities to be provided to the differently-abled include examination by orthopaedics, ophthalmologist and ENT surgeon, rehabilitative measures and advice.

The scheme seeks to cover 25 crore children across the country and provide free follow-up management and treatment at the district hospitals and at tertiary level wherever needed under the NRHM.

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