The Mother and Child Project offers free prenatal and postnatal care to woman, along with immunization and medical care for infants and very young children, in the villages of Sathya Sai mandal. Once a month, teams consisting of doctors, medical technicians and sevadals, from all over Andrah Pradesh trek down the narrow bumpy roads to remote villages, along with a fully equipped "Mother and Child" ambulance provided by Bhagavan. Women receive on-going medical and nutritional support, as well as training in childcare, personal hygiene and spirituality. This loving care extends to the village headmen, local schoolteachers and elders, who are involved in activities to ensure that women have community support.
The project is also committed to improving knowledge and training for local birth attendants, educating them to provide better care for mothers before, during and after delivery. "Human birth is a gift from God," says Swami. "It is only by the strength of a mother's will that a child will come up in life. Hence she must be given pride of place. She must be respected and cared for."
Post natal visits train mothers in better infant care and include preventive healthcare education, immunizations and on-going nutritional counseling. "It is highly important to take care of the health of children," says Bhagavan. "Health is the foundation upon which human life rests."
A healthy mother = a healthy baby = a healthy nation.
The Easwaramma Women's Welfare Trust continues with the program of monthly medical camps. Presently we serve 30 villages.
The doctor who directs our medical camps reflected over the almost four years of these EWWT medical camps. "There have been many changes as a result of these camps. The women understand so much better about the importance of prenatal care, and cleanliness and hygiene. Before our camps, they were afraid of immunizations. Now they come and ask us for them! There has been a widespread increase in breastfeeding, as well, because they now understand how much this helps the child, especially with immunities.
"We did cooking demonstrations in many villages, showing the ladies how to cook healthy affordable food, with an emphasis on dark leafy greens. The ladies really enjoyed these lessons, especially since we gave them samples. As a result of the diet and cooking education, there has been an improvement in overall health, and especially a reduction of anemia.
"They are also using the water filters we give out, at least for their children's water, which protects them from viruses, parasites, bacteria and high levels of fluoride. Almost all of the children are now also being sent to school as a result of our repeated urging. Before the camps, since these women were not themselves educated, they did not value schooling and they kept the children with them.
"Before we started the camps, about 75% of infant deliveries were done at home, which meant high numbers of sick infants and stillborns. Now the situation is reversed - about 75% of deliveries are done in the hospital, with near-zero rates of mortality and morbidity (sickness) for the infants, and a zero rate for the mothers.
"Their overall awareness of health has improved so much!"