WHEELS Global Foundation, IIT Bombay, and RIST partner to tackle newborn malnutrition

Photos from the April 9, 2024 event on malnutrition held by the Indian Consulate in New York with the Wheels Global Foundation. PHOTOS: Indian Consulate-WGF

WHEELS Global Foundation (wheelsglobal.org), a social impact platform of global IIT alumni community’s Newborn Nutritional Health Initiative, is upscaling pioneering work of IIT Bombay’s Health Spoken Tutorials (HST) team to address pervasive newborn malnutrition, going by India’s National Family Health Survey data.

On April 9, 2024, the Indian Consulate in New York hosted WHEELS leadership team along with several well-known IIT alumni, and its partners who are complimenting its newborn nutritional health program with daily healthy meals to underserved school kids across rural India — Annapoorna Trust serving more than 9 million meals a day and Akshaya Patra Foundation serving more than 2 million  meals a day.

Washington D.C. based RIST (Rural India Supporting Trust) with a large grant is supporting scaling of deployment of this initiative across one of the largest States in India, Madhya Pradesh, so as to impact lives of more than 10 million mothers and babies.

After amazing results in several districts across three States (Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Chhattisgarh) where the babies gained as much as five-fold more weight in first six months and exceeded all WHO standards, HST team has taken its Cuedwell technology-enabled train-the-trainer model to enable thousands of health & ICDS workers so mothers can be taught proper breast-feeding and nutritional intake practices, a press release from the Indian Consulate said.

Given the massive benefits mothers and babies would derive from these simple-to-learn tools (via IIT-Bombay’s HST team’s >100 10-min long video tutorials) towards a healthy life and healthy society, CGI and WHEELS hope those who missed attending the public event would visit WHEELS’ initiative page (wheelsglobal.org) to learn and benefit from this pioneering research and dedicated effort from a passionate team, and help scale the effort to entire India and all over the world.

Consul General Binaya Srikant Pradhan said, “Today we hosted the event where WHEELS Global Foundation launched an initiative to provide technology enabled solutions for taking care of malnourishment in rural and remote areas in India. Wheels Global Foundation has been working since last 17-18 years with state governments, rural communities in India making real big difference. While the Govt of India and state govts are doing their bit, there remains a gap because of huge population that we have and the technology aspect remains unattended on some cases. I am really happy that CGI could partner with WHEELS in a really small way. They are doing commendable work in mobilizing IIT Alumni, financial support, working back home with district authorities, national health missions, societies and communities, to tackle the challenges which are otherwise unattended.”

Ratan Agarwal, President, WHEELS Global Foundation, said, “Complexity and magnitude of challenges in the health sector of India with its 1.4 billion population are hard to fathom. However, initiatives like this bring equal-scale optimism through the power of technology, innovation, impact ecosystem, and public-private partnerships, whereby we are able to deliver compelling and repeatable high-impact solutions at scale touching the lives of millions. This is what the society and country expect of IIT brand.”

Paul Glick, Executive Director, RIST of Washington, said, “At Rural India Supporting Trust (RIST), we strive to support organizations and programs that are combatting critical issues and providing data-driven solutions to long-term challenges, With this grant and partnership with Wheels Global, we hope to positively impact Madhya Pradesh’s healthcare infrastructure by reducing malnutrition in newborns. It is vital to address malnutrition at an early stage as it impacts every phase of life and acts as a barrier to future growth and development for children. By recognizing the needs of underserved communities, we can collectively work towards building a just and equitable society for all.”

Priyanka Das, Mission Director, National Health Mission, Govt of Madhya Pradesh, said, “As a matter of policy, exclusive brestfeeding is mandated in first 6 months of a newborn. While it sounds so simple, most first-time mothers are unable to have proper suckling by babies. We are grateful to Dr Rupal Dalal’s research into proper breastfeeding techniques, and to Government of India’s Ministry of Education support of training innovation Spoken Tutorials at IIT Bombay. In M.P., we are taking the HST program first to seven most challenged districts and then scale to rest of the State through the master-trainer bench we are creating.”



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