Fostering synergy between health and ICDS for advancing child survival and development

Fostering synergy between health and ICDS for advancing child survival and development

Valsad district, in the state of Gujarat, undertook a process to synchronise the administration, jurisdiction and function of Health department and the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme (ICDS). Synchronisation refers to the act of working together, so that the co-operation of different entities leads to a more fruitful outcome than would be possible individually.

Health and ICDS had evolved into a situation in which their activities were not co-ordinated. This was despite the involvement of both in attempts to address issues of child survival and development. Synchronisation was aimed ultimately at improving child malnutrition and mortality by enhancing collaboration and linkages between the systems and functionaries of both departments. With the support of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Health and ICDS departments made significant changes to their operations. They planned and implemented a new manner of working together. Key aspects of this were the redistribution of sub-centres and ICDS sectors; shared reporting and supervision mechanisms; and introduction of Mamta Diwas (Village Health and Nutrition Day), Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illnesses (IMNCI), micronutrient programs, and Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) program.

This case study documents synchronisation of Health and ICDS in Valsad district. Qualitative methods were used to investigate the need, process and outcomes with officials, workers and beneficiaries. Literature was also reviewed. These findings are presented in this paper along with a discussion on the challenges faced and efforts made to resolve these. Finally suggestions for further consideration are made to support child survival and development.

The study concludes that the process of synchronisation of the Health and ICDS departments marks a significant contribution for capacity building of both institutions and individuals. This has led to worthwhile benefits for the health and nutrition of women and children in the Valsad district of Gujarat.