Through an inter-faith alliance (Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist), a campaign called ‘Apni Baat Aapno Ke Sanath’ will be launched in the first week of October which will focus on mental health, health immunisation and Anemia in adolescents. This campaign is in collaboration with UNICEF and CACR (Citizens Association for Child Rights).
The volunteers of this campaign will go door to door in various parts of the city to spread awareness regarding these issues. The volunteers would be trained by experts who would take the awareness message to every home in the locality. The awareness message is expected to reach 35,000 homes by January 2023.
Various religious institutions like Jamaat e Islami - Hind, the Archdiocese of Bombay, the youth wing from Brahma Kumaris, and The Buddhist Society of India have participated in the campaign.
Bishop Allwin D’Silva, Archbishop, Archdiocese of Bombay, said, “In India religion plays a very important role and we get motivated by it, therefore this alliance was very necessary. It also focuses on a larger picture where people of all faith are coming together to work towards a common cause.”
“India has the largest universal adolescent anaemia control programme in the world, targeting 116 million adolescent girls and boys. The programme plays a pivotal role in protecting adolescents from the debilitating effects of anaemia, breaking the country’s inter-generational cycle of malnutrition, and safeguarding the health and potential of future generations,” added the Archbishop.
Sister Kamlesh, National Co-ordinator of SAT Wing of Brahma Kumaris expressed the need to target the people about their mental well-being. Especially “Children and young people in India could feel the impact of COVID-19 on their health both mental and physical well-being for many years to come. The people need a support system and guidance to deal with the post-crisis situation. Also, we need to break the stigma of talking about mental well-being and seeking help to have a better life.”
Madni Shaikh, Joint Secretary, Mumbai Central Unit, Jamaat e Islami - Hind (JIH) said, “Immunization is key to child survival. Immunization is one of the most effective and cost-effective ways to protect children’s lives and futures. Globally, 1.5 million deaths could be avoided if children were vaccinated. Some children could not get immunized due to the lockdowns in the past.”
Sumeet Bhosle, Media Representative, Buddhist Society of India said, “Being a part of the inter-faith alliance is important at this stage as we are trying to overcome the crisis due to the pandemic. Health is one of the major areas neglected by many. However, its repercussions are long-lasting. We have agreed to come together with an objective to use our network and expertise of UNICEF to reach out to the larger masses. It is going to be a door-to-door campaign with a specific message for the people.”
Rajeshwari Chandrasekar, Chief, UNICEF, Maharashtra Office welcomed the move and said, “We are extremely happy to join hands with the faith-based organisations which have pledged to work with us on various health and nutrition related issues. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic and constant lockdowns for two years, health and nutrition services have been affected across the globe. There is an urgent need to address issues of anaemia among youth, routine immunization, and mental well-being. Anaemia among adolescents adversely affects growth, resistance to infections, cognitive development, and work productivity.”
Nitin Wadhwani, Director and CEO, CACR said, “Maharashtra Forum - An Inter-Faith Alliance has a solid network among different communities that would take our message to the grassroots. The campaign is not limited to awareness but makes available resources, experts, and guidance on these issues. Mumbai would be a pilot project and later, it would be extended to other areas.”