The History of Child Rights in Indian Healthcare
I grew up with an exceeding large adopted extended family. Other than my sister, Vasundhara, I have close to 28 adopted sibling hailing from impoverished villages over India. They live in a children’s home, established by my father, called Vatsalya Mandir. Growing up, most of my weekends were spent at Vatsalya Mandir and what started as a social project grew into a second home for all of us.
However, Vatsalya Mandir was not without its challenges. Most of my adopted siblings suffered from severe health complications. Watching them battle through these, I became cognizant of the fact that had they not moved in with us, they would never have had access to the healthcare resources and possibly remain untreated of their illnesses. If India, being a signatory of the UNCRC which guarantees ‘the right to survive’, why was the average life expectancy in the villages from which my siblings hailed close to 17 years? I decided
I first briefly explored the societal position of children through the many eras of Indian history starting right from the time of the Mughals. I then delved into the current legal and medical provisions for children in India and analysed to what extent these laws are implemented. I collected primary data through surveys of 600+ parents (representing all socioeconomic levels) and pediatricians (private and government-funded) to measure health literacy, then analyzed this and quantified child healthcare inequity. I next compared the results with reported data for previous generations. Furthermore, conducted interviews with paediatricians to understand the vaccination and nutritional needs for a child in pre-natal to natal age to survive.
This paper is an independent research paper but was written under the mentorship of Prof Rajesh Kumar: Senior professor, Former Head, Member, Community Development Cell, Faculty of Social Sciences. Supervising Doctoral at The University of Delhi.