22 year old Champa lives in a small hamlet, in central India, with her three children. Her two-year-old daughter, Rani, suffers from acute malnutrition.
Rani requires emergency treatment or she will not survive. The nearest malnutrition treatment center is two hours away, accessible through a public bus that just runs twice a day. But Champa cannot take Rani there. She would have to take her baby to the facility for at least ten days, losing out on daily wages from her work in the fields nearby. Her in-laws would not allow her, and in any case, they do not trust government hospitals.
Rani's story encapsulates India's health challenges. She was simply left out of the village health worker's poorly maintained record books. Further, the facility was too far to access, social norms prevented Champa from helping her child, and government policies and schemes to prevent malnutrition never reached Rani.
There are thousands of Ranis and Champas in the villages of northern India. The tragedy of India's maternal and child health, especially malnutrition, is a tragedy on a scale that numbers can barely convey.