Recently, we had met with the president of the Indian Podiatry Association, Dr. A. P. S. Suri in the hopes to have the Indian Podiatry Association have a section on their website that shared information on footwear needs & requirements for children as is done by Podiatry Associations in other parts of the world. Our conversation together has had a profound effect on us and led us to recognise how challenging it is to be a parent in the India of today, where the burden of parenting knowledge is attributed to the self.
Dr. A. P. S. Suri, shared a story with us about a 15 year old girl who visited his clinic with bunions. She was in real pain and hoping for a solution. Unfortunately, Dr. Suri told us that at the age of 15 there were not many options to fix her bunions, however, had she come earlier as a child, when the bones hadn’t hardened and formed, the problem could have been rectified and controlled by simply giving her appropriate/good footwear. He told us that when the 15 year old questioned him whether it was her parents fault that they hadn’t brought her to him earlier given that now she must live with the pain for the rest of her life, he wasn’t sure how to answer his patient. The truth, as we all know, is that no parents wants to see their child suffer. Unfortunately, information available to parents in India is far less than available in the developed world to make informed decisions and this is the reason in this case corrective measure wasn’t taken when it could have been.
So we began to wonder, why are parents in India not empowered with information on preventive measures to enhance our children’s life in the same way as Developed countries. After all, these preventive measures reduce disease burden & future health costs and create an environment for future healthy lives of our children, something that every parent wants to give their child and something that every government will want their citizens to benefit from.
As we began to look into it, our first ever economics lesson on ‘opportunity cost’ came back to make sense of the why?
In the developed world, most of this information is shared by non-profit, government platforms. It is a collaboration of different medical societies that share good practices and knowledge to parents so that preventive actions can result in the best for their child. These bodies fight hard for standards to be implemented based on heavily funded research to ensure a healthier environment for children in order to prevent diseases and reduce future medical burden. To be able to do so, these organisations are empowered with resources through government funding or other non-profit channels.
In a developing country like India, the opportunity cost of allocating the same resources to similar channels is very high. As per UNICEF, infant mortality in India is as high as 63 infants per 1000 live births, and from those babies who make it, more than 2 million children are known to die every year from preventable infections. Further, one of 3 of the world’s malnourished children lives in india and 50 per cent of all childhood deaths in India are attributable to malnutrition. I don’t think anyone of us would even argue that until we can curtail these issues, our limited resources are best used at addressing the challenges facing the weakest of our children. However, it doesn’t mean Indian parents can afford to be unaware of information that affects our children’s future health!
Leslie D. Biswas in her article titled, "Jeopardizing Children’s Health: Indian Markets Overrun with Toxic Toys” refers to a study published in the Journal of Community Medicine by the Department of Community Medicine which examined 50 middle class parents. Of the parents surveyed, all reported believing it’s the government’s responsibility to check and scrutinize toys for harmful chemicals. Only 37% were aware of toxins in cheap toys. But shockingly, even after finding out that the toys they had purchased were toxic, only 15 parents discarded them. The remaining 22 hung onto their toys, some citing the money they spent to buy them.” This to us clearly suggests that many parents in India still don't consider the 'real' costs of their decision making.
While it may seem cheaper to save a few hundred rupees today, exposure to chemicals may lead to a child spending thousands of rupees in healthcare in the future. This is something that is well understood in the developed countries.
When we started LittleRoyals.in, one of the goals we committed to is to provide “The best for your little ones” and we were clear that this meant we wanted LittleRoyals to empower parents with the knowledge to make best decisions for their little ones, regardless of whether they were able to find a product on our website. We are therefore committed to actively sharing knowledge, allowing parents to make more informed decision to benefit little ones.
In fact, it is our belief that while as adults we have a right to choose any product we buy, as parents and caretakers of those who cannot make informed purchase decisions themselves, there is an additional responsibility to educate ourselves on understanding quality and hazards that may have an impact on our little ones future.
Recognising that in developed countries this responsibility is more easy to fulfil as a lot of this information is accessible and often pushed through non profit channels, in India, the task is tougher and so parents will need to empower and commit to doing educating themselves. From our side, we have decided to initiate and pledge to a movement called PAQQ (Parent Asking Questions about Quality) that will hopefully improve the quality of products available for children in India, and at least help start the process of raising our standards to be comparable to the best practices in the world. Therefore, we ask all Indian parents who understand this need, to pledge to PAQQ.
As a parent committing themselves to the PAQQ movement, parents must think about the products that they are using and understand the different standards and needs of their child before making a decision in the best interest for their child.
We understand that price is important for parents whose expenses increase significantly post birth of a child, but through this movement we want parents to also recognise the true cost of the decisions they make and so commit to educating themselves to make more informed choices rather than rely on the blind trust of diligent manufacturing or the Indian government to be the watchdogs for products available for our children.
As a part of the PAQQ movement, we hope parents will further work as a medium to enhance the education of other parents and actively share experiences of good habits & knowledge so that other Indian parents can benefit.
We believe that if more parents educate themselves by understanding chemicals that are harmful, and work to better understand the products they purchase, more and more companies will shift their focus to supply to this demand and in doing so which will help bring down the cost of the more qualitative products in the market. As more suppliers focus on the same parameters it will make these products available to more Indians at more affordable price points compared to the boutique supply we have currently.
We must recognise that to some extent only parents understanding and educating themselves will change the products that will be available to us in an affordable manner and can thank social media to help drive this change.
For those who share our vision, we ask you to pledge to this movement and share knowledge. The goal of this movement is not to market a product but to educate parents & care-takers to make informed decisions and understand better the products they buy so that parents can provide the best care for their little ones.
Join the pledge today and become a PAQQ. Let’s ensure ‘Only the best for your little one!’