Published: 06th September 2020
This Bengaluru boy's mobile application can detect malnutrition in children aged five and below
Ayush Gharat has been working to help Asha workers deal with malnutrition issues in children and helping the frontline health workers to deal with stress and depression during this pandemic
In 2018, when Ayush Gharat visited an Anganwadi in Bengaluru for his school project, he realised that the malnutrition problem is grave and deep in India. That's when he thought to make the most of technology and help these Anganwadi centres overcome this issue. Having learnt coding and programming from class VI, this Android developer developed an app when he was just in class X. Ayush who is currently studying in class XI, says, "The app is called mNutrition and it helps diagnose malnutrition in children who are below five years by comparing their height, weight and age to the WHO's standard parameters. My app not only helps one detect the problem but also gauge it on various levels including minor, moderate and severe."
Curious to know more about it, we ask him how the app works. Ayush explains, "The app works on the basis of data and after you enter the parameters like height and weight, it asks for more details like the measurement of mid upper arm circumference and so on, which play an important role in identifying the severity of malnutrition in the child. Once the severity is shown on the app, the ASHA workers at the anganwadi will be able to provide the right treatment and food to these children." But why an app to detect malnutrition when there is already a table and guidelines given by the World Health Organization? He answers, "Sometimes, it becomes difficult for ASHA workers to understand the complex table by the WHO. Or though they understand the table, there might be mistakes in the numbers when they enter these parameters in the register. That's where this app plays an important role. It is designed keeping the parameters mentioned by the WHO in mind."
While Ayush's app makes the work of ASHA workers easier, it is yet to be picked up by the state government. He explains, "When I launched this app in 2019, Shivanand Patil, the Family and Health Welfare Minister, tweeted and asked if I would collaborate with the Government of Karnataka to implement it in the Anganwadi centres. Unfortunately, that government folded and a new state government was formed. I had planned to approach the present government this year but everything is on hold due to the pandemic." Meanwhile, Ayush is adding a few more features so that he can make the app more user-friendly before he launches it in the market. "I am trying to add more languages to this app so that people who don't know how to read or understand English can operate this app," adds Ayush.
To the health workers' rescue
Apart from developing an app, Ayush has been trying to help frontline health workers to overcome depression and stress during this pandemic. This new initiative by Ayush is called Aashwas and is only a few months old. 1 Million For 1 Billion (1M1B), a social innovation and future skills initiative aligned with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, has been mentoring this young boy in his initiative. What exactly has he been doing to help these health workers? He explains, "When the lockdown was announced in the month of March and there was a rise in the number of COVID cases, there was equal fear among doctors of coming in contact with the virus. One of my relatives, who is a doctor, told us that he was going through depression after witnessing people die and then, remaining in quarantine almost every alternate week. That's when I thought to conduct some events online that could help reduce their stress. This particular project is called Muskaan as it is meant to bring a smile on their faces. I conducted this activities like a scavenger hunt, anthakshari and so on, among the medical fraternity across India in association with the Indian Medical Association."
Ayush has also been raising funds through online mode to provide PPE kits to health workers. "I have been able to raise more than Rs 6 lakh to provide PPE kits to these health workers. Recently, my brother, who is a drummer, and I conducted a musical event and we were able to raise nearly another lakh on that day alone. Not just the participation in activities, I have also received an overwhelming response in terms of funds. While these activities will continue to take place, I will be soon visiting the UNO's headquarters located in the USA to participate in the summit conducted by UNO."