The basics of Life

We sometimes forget living in the western world how we take for granted the basics of being nourished and having the appropriate level of sanitation and cleanliness. This was never emphasised more to me than in the two project outcome reviews I attended where Save the Children have played a vital role in and collaborated on with partners. The first was entitled the PANChSHEEL project (Participatory Approach for Nutrition in Children Strengthening Health Education Engineering and Environment Linkages). I know a long title but basically it is finding how engineering, education and environmental solutions are linked to provide benefit in infant and young child feeding practices. This project was a collaboration between the University College London, Save the Children, India, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi. So why India? India has the highest burden of undernutrition in the world, with 30% of the world’s stunted children and nearly 50% of severely wasted children under the age of five. The study focused on developing education and training in conjunction with the community using a community champion approach. We used schools as platforms and children as change agents to improve education and understanding at a village and individual level in the community. This approach is fundamental to ensure sustainability and is something that needs to be supported at a government level to ensure roll out of this approach to the other regions in India. More information can be found in the attached links:

The main findings of the study identified areas and approaches to improve the overall nutrition status of the children in the regions studied which includes interventions in:- Nutrition in terms of importance of breastfeeding and animal milk.- Education of community in nutrition and good sanitation and hygiene practices- Understanding of water, sanitation and hygiene practices and how potential engineering solutions could minimise impact of bad practices- How fuel is used for cooking practices that could have an impact on the quality of the food and impact on the environment.The other study presented was with respect to the Stop Diarrhoea Initiative in conjunction with a partnership developed with RB (formerly Reckitt Benckiser). The collaboration in conjunction with Save the Children’s WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) approach provided major benefit in a target area in Lagos, Nigeria and across Rural and urban villages across 4 states (Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal) in India in terms of reduction of childhood deaths related to diarrhoea. As part of the initiative, the availability and supply of Rotavirix from GSK was also highlighted as a key activity. An excellent article explaining the benefits of the work is attached below:

The achievements of the work are highlighted below:

  • achieved an estimated reduction of 62% diarrhoea prevalence in SDI intervention areas, compared with 41% in control areas, preventing an estimated 16,286 child deaths cases (based on an estimate of diarrhoea being fatal in 15% of cases)
  • achieved over 80% coverage in exclusive breastfeeding water and sanitation and handwashing after defecation within the four states
  • achieved our target for measles coverage and rotavirus has started in two states
  • increased treatment with Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) and zinc combined from 9% to 22%
  • increased knowledge and health-seeking behaviour in our communities to over 80%; and our approach to social behaviour change and achieving open-defecation-free status in our communities has been recognised by the government in all four states

These are only two great examples of the collaboration and the work Save the Children are carrying out. There are many more… They have made me think about what we take for granted in our lives. It has made me realise that we can all make a difference… How and where do you want to make a difference? I’d be interested in your thoughts.


  1. Great Sir,

    How can I join as serve to the society. Presently I am working with WHO at it’s sub regional office in Chhattisgarh, India as Data Assistant.

    Thanks and regards,
    Manoj Bhagat
    DA-Chhattisgarh, World Health Organization
    Cell: +91 8986801359

  2. The project outcomes seem impressive, thanks for sharing Kiren! And what a powerful question to ask – where would I like to make a difference ? Not an easy one to answer…but I will try… I think for me, I want to start the change with my family/ at my house – making sure we don’t use plastics, recycle, save water & energy, eat local & organic where possible and compost – i.e. do as much as possible to not create a burden on the nature/earth…and share the concept of individual responsibility with my little kids! Best, Manu.

  3. Thanks for your blog Kiren and very thought provoking. Really sounds like this opportunity has been great for you. I think sometimes we forget about what is happening in the world outside GSK and it made me think about how important sharing our knowledge with others and why we really need to focus on coaching and mentoring and bringing a sense of pragmatism. This is the very small diffrenece I would like to make for the rest of my time at GSK…

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