Malnutrition is one among the major problems in India. According to the World Bank index, India is one of the highest-ranking countries in the world when considering the number of children suffering from malnutrition. A large number of pregnant women in India also fall prey to malnutrition.
Keeping these facts in mind, a 54-year-old doctor in Thanjavur district in Tamil Nadu started harvesting vegetables and cooked them to feed pregnant women visiting his hospital. Dr V Soundararajan, head of the primary health centre in Seruvaviduthi in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu for the past 12 years, has been providing nutritious lunch for the pregnant women as an effort to bring down anaemia in pregnant women and infant mortality rate. He started growing his own organic farm just 6 months ago.
He is now able to get some sponsors who donate for weekly lunch. Soundararajan harvests around 20 kg of vegetables including pumpkin, snake gourd, okra, and cluster beans from his vegetable garden and feeds almost 50 pregnant women every week. They are also given dates, fruits and boiled pulses. The excess vegetables are distributed among women.
“Every Tuesday around 50 pregnant women visit the primary health centre. Most of them come from poor families and are anaemic. They have no knowledge of good food habits due to illiteracy — the main reason behind maternity and infant mortality. So, instead of preaching them, I decided to give them the required healthy food,” Soundararajan told The Times of India.
He works in collaboration with his friends and the state government has also provided him with monetary assistance. He also takes mothers to the garden and explains the nutritional value of vegetables.
The physician has also started constructing a children’s park on the hospital premises. Considering these efforts, the health centre has got an ISO certification. “I come from a rural background. So, I am trying to do something for my own kind. I could do all these things only with the support of my colleagues,” he said.