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Salaam Bombay Foundation’s (SBF) 16th Bal Parishad - Children’s Health Assembly was held virtually on February 4 on World Cancer Day, witnessing participation of over 350 students of the organisation’s Preventive Health Programme (PHP).

The event, created on the lines of the Model United Nations, had the tagline ‘Taking Charge for A Healthy Generation’. It was attended by eminent dignitaries including Dr. Mangala Gomare, Executive Health Officer, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), Dr. Krishna Methekar, Deputy Director at Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and Mr. Anand Khandagale, Deputy Commissioner, Women and Child Development Govt. Of Maharashtra.

The Assembly offered a distinct platform to the student leaders aka Health Monitors of Salaam Bombay Foundation’s networking and leadership forums called School level Bal Panchayat to interact with policy makers and administrative stakeholders about some crucial issues like health, nutrition and mental well-being, especially in the backdrop of the pandemic.

The Health Monitors were provided with a platform to engage with stakeholders related to the topics as a result of the awareness brought in by Salaam Bombay Foundation’s multiple community outreach interventions. The Preventive Health Programme has played a huge role during the pandemic by reaching out to its student beneficiaries to inform them about the importance of immunity boosting foods, micro-greens and kitchen gardening through online sessions.

Speaking about the event, Tshering D. Bhutia - Vice President, Projects (Preventive Health & Research), Salaam Bombay Foundation, said, “The Health Assembly is an initiative put together by the student leaders. It’s a unique platform to facilitate the give and take of ideas between student leaders and administrative stakeholders accelerating changes at policy and community level. Our focus through such initiatives of the Preventive Health Programme is to encourage students to be involved in bringing about change in the society. They get to work in close tandem with government officials, media and communities which is a step towards preparing them to become well-informed citizens of tomorrow.”

Dr. Mangala Gomare, Executive Health Officer, MCGM, said, “I would like to thank Salaam Bombay Foundation for inviting me to Balparishad which is focused on community health and led by adolescents. Salaam Bombay Foundation and the Public Health Department of MCGM have been working together for years for tobacco control and health.

I was impressed with the work done by brave Health Monitors empowered by SBF and I was amazed to see the kind of work done by them in their communities. For the success of any public health programme community participation is important; and people like religious leaders, elected representatives are very influential in the communities. But children are more influential than them and nobody can play a better role of community ambassador than children which is evident from Health Monitors’ contribution which we all witnessed in today’s Balparishad.

Public Health Department BMC Act 1888 and COTPA 2003 ensures through continuous monitoring that nobody is selling tobacco within 100 yards of any educational institute in the city and action is taken on breaking the law. But if somebody comes across such cases you can directly contact the public health department.

Commenting on the wonderful work done by SBF students, Dr. Krishna Methekar, Deputy Director, FSSAI (Western Region), said, “I would start by saluting SBF’s Health Monitors. Their contribution is worth commending. Today we have seen wonderful stories of health monitors’ contributions in their communities. If Health monitors continue the great work our next generation will be saved from the harmful effects of tobacco to a great extent. Health Monitors interventions focus mainly on modifying lifestyles of communities.

The concept of microgreens cultivation being promoted by health monitors is indeed beneficial and I will definitely take this forward to ensure that FSSAI will promote microgreen cultivation for health and nutrition”.

Shri. Anand Khandagale, Deputy Commissioner, WCD Maharashtra, said, “Salaam Bombay Foundation is empoweringyouth leaders and providing them platforms for exchange of ideas, information and experiences with us which is very beneficial for overall health and welfare of the society.

The mission of Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) is to make India malnutrition-free and the scheme being rolled out by WCD covers all children from 6 months to 18 years. The work being done by Health monitors in promoting micronutrient consumption through microgreen cultivation is commendable. Community interventions done by Health Monitors during National Nutrition Month to disseminate nutrition awareness in masses and events like Balparishad organized by SBF to promote nutrition and healthy dietary practices are very impactful”.

Salaam Bombay Foundation’s forums like Bal Panchayat and Bal Parishad have been working with government school students since 2007, providing them with the opportunity to use their voice to prompt action on various issues that affect their health and well-being. Students have been able to develop a network of Health Monitors and share strategies for change in their communities, thanks to these initiatives.


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