Dr Radhika Batra is the founder of Every Infant Matters, an organisation which provides health solutions to disadvantaged children across the world, including India, Kenya, Nigeria, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic.
Having worked as a resident doctor in a hospital in the slums in New Delhi, she was motivated to create the non-profit organisation after witnessing first-hand how children were suffering from preventable diseases and dying. To date, Every Infant Matters has given vitamin A drops to almost 70,000 children, reaching communities via medical outreach camps and door-to-door delivery.
Since launching in 2017, the organisation has saved 74,173 children from blindness, over 40,000 disadvantaged pregnant women have been given prenatal vitamins, and they have provided education to prevent gender inequality and the stigma of TB, HIV/AIDS and blindness to over 65,000 families.
Dr Radhika Batra’s tireless efforts were recognised last night (20 September) at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Goalkeepers 2022 ceremony, where she won the Progress Award.
Goalkeepers is a multi-year campaign which brings together a diverse community of global leaders and changemakers who are advancing progress toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Dr Batra was recognised for processing good health and wellbeing and reducing inequalities.
Here, she speaks to GLAMOUR about how she founded Every Infant Matters and how other women can make a difference in their communities:
GLAMOUR: Thanks so much for joining us today, it’s great to speak to you. Can you tell us a little bit about your organisation, Every Infant Matters?
Dr Batra: When I was a medical student, I was studying paediatrics, and I saw a lot of children die. I saw a lot of them become blind or disabled for reasons that affected me on a very personal level. I wanted to do something to remove and reverse these preventable problems from society.
There are diseases that children are born with or cancers that we have little control over, but these are situations where a cost-effective intervention or a vaccine made available at the right time would have made a difference, even saving a life.
In my hospital, I started distributing vitamin A to prevent blindness. When there’s a deficiency of vitamin A in the body, it causes progressive blindness in malnourished children. It’s something that you and I take for granted because we get it in our diets, we get good food, eggs and butter, but these are children who survive on meagre scraps of poor-quality food. If they don’t get vitamin A, their eyesight progressively deteriorates, and a child lives a life of blindness – just because no one replaced the vitamin A or made enough food available for them. It’s one of mankind’s most shameful failures, and I wanted to do something about it. That’s how Every Infant Matters started.
What was the most challenging aspect of creating Every Infant Matters?
The biggest challenge we faced was overcoming social and cultural barriers in the societies in which we work. They often don’t want to accept help of any kind; they don’t understand that [vitamin A deficiency] could be a problem or that lack of vaccines could cause their children to die. That’s definitely been the biggest challenge in reaching out to these communities and encouraging them to accept help.