Sector Wide Approach to Strengthening Health ( SWASTH )

Bihar Technical Assistance Support Team (BTAST)
Government of Bihar initiative supported by Department for International Development, UK


Convergence of key departments and awareness can make VHSND a success

A district-level Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop in Araria shows trainers the way ahead in bringing more people under the VHSND initiative.

Araria/Patna: "Convergent working across various departments as well as awareness creation among people on issues of health, sanitation and nutrition is necessary for result-oriented success,” said Dr NK Singh, Civil Surgeon, Araria, at a district-level Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop for Improving Quality & Coverage of Village Health, Sanitation & Nutrition Day (VHSND) in Araria in September 2015. Delivering the inaugural speech, Dr N.K. Singh emphasised on increasing mass awareness so that many more underprivileged households can avail of the VHSND services.

The district-level training workshop was attended by representatives from the three key departments of the Bihar Government - Health, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Public Health Engineering Department (PHED).

The workshop was organised as a review exercise for facilitators or field workers so that they could be updated with developments and interventions on health, nutrition, water and sanitation-related issues. The workshop was also held to impress upon participants the need to identify people from disadvantaged and marginalised communities, who could be covered under the programme.

Dr Kari Prasad Mahto, District Programme Officer, ICDS, also emphasised on the importance of Anganwadi Centres playing a central role in providing VHSND services at the village level. He talked about the various measures that are needed at the Anganwadi and village level to ensure good health amongst people.  For example, he stressed on how important it was that water is stored in such a manner that it is safe for drinking, and about having separate storage provision for water required for other domestic purposes. “If people consume safe potable water, more than 50 per cent of the diseases can be checked.” He also shared his experiences gained from his visits and interactions with people in different parts of Bihar.

Parimal Kumar Jha, District Programme Officer, BTAST (Nutrition), who shared an overview of the health, nutrition and sanitation scenario in Araria, made a comparison between the state of Bihar and the Araria district.  He highlighted how the district was lagging the state on many health and nutrition indicators.  He particularly referred to prevalence of anaemia among women, access to toilets and incidence of underweight children which he felt were the areas where focussed action is required to make improvements.

Rehan Ashraf, District Programme Manager, National Health Mission (NHM), underlined the importance of monitoring and providing onsite support to frontline workers (FLWs) to help them deliver better services. “Monitoring and supportive supervision help the FLWs in understanding issues in a more vivid manner. It is not helpful to just visit and give comments, rather we should help facilitators become more competent. It is a joint responsibility associated with the programme,” he said.

Ashraf also urged the participants to make a schedule to regularly visit sites and prepare feedback, so that field-level  issues can be handled meaningfully.