No Wasted Lives celebrates women in science: Nita Bhandari
With over 35 years of experience in child health research, Nita Bhandari has built a career with a special focus on nutrition intervention trials to reduce childhood morbidity and mortality, nutrition-infection interaction, and vaccine trials to prevent childhood infectious diseases. She has contributed through research to many current recommended practices – exclusive breastfeeding, infant feeding, ORS and zinc during diarrhoea, micronutrient support, and integrated management of neonatal and childhood illness.
Her experience includes extensive research in the field of acute malnutrition. In a study on feeding regimens for home-based management of severely malnourished children, supported by Sanjana Mohan (who is also featured in our series of Women in Science), she assessed the efficacy of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) in the treatment of children with uncomplicated SAM. She however, believes that the ultimate goal is prevent malnutrition rather than focus on the treatment.
Nita’s greatest satisfaction came from building the Centre for Health Research and Development, Society for Applied Studies (CHRD-SAS) in New Delhi. At the centre, she leads a team of predominantly women; senior scientists and several physicians. The community-based research involves home visitation by study teams that help to support mothers with breastfeeding and taking better care of their children and themselves. Mothers love the idea of someone visiting, and the opportunity to interact with women researchers. The organisation feels proud to contribute knowledge and tools for mothers’ and children’s well-being.
It gives Nita happiness to see that her organisation enables young women to leave their houses to come to work every day when families often expect their daughters to stay at home to look after their children and husbands. Nita sees one reason for this being possible is the improvement in public transportation that allows women to travel safely to their workplace.
Nita loves the work in the community, and this is what inspired her to get into public health. Her dream was to work for and with children and their mothers, and to do something that will help them. In research, she found a work that would lead to solutions.