Free Press Journal

Mumbai: BMC students have poorest health according to survey


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Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) despite being the richest municipal corporation of the country and having extensive mid-day meal programmes for students of civic schools, the health conditions of these students still remain poor.

According to the BMC data, one out of every third child in the civic-run schools is malnourished and the percentage has increased from 8 per cent to 34 percent since last three years.

According to the official from the World Health Organization (WHO), malnutrition is by far the largest contributor to child mortality globally and currently 45 per cent children are malnourished.

“The children who are under-weight and inter-uterine growths are responsible for about 2.2 million child deaths annually in the world due to malnutrition. Deficiencies in vitamin A or zinc cause 1 million deaths every year,” added the official.

“ We had started with the Mid Day Meal and Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) for primary and upper primary students in the civic schools for providing nutritious food like khichdi and other food which contains proteins and micro nutrients,” said a senior official.

The doctor said that health check-up is done once in a year in all civic schools so that early diagnosis and treatment can be done.

“During routine medical inspection, the students will have a complete health check-up and they will be screened for minor and major ailments. The student who are examined are treated by the experts doctors. In emergency cases, they will be taken to the KEM Hospital, Nair Hospital, Rajawadi Hospital and Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital, Sion for further treatment,” added senior doctor of BMC.

According to the data, more girls (35 per cent) were malnourished than boys (33 per cent) in 2015-16. It were 26 per cent girls and 27 per cent boys in 2014-15 and 9 per cent boys and 6 per cent boys in 2013-14.

“The highest proportion of malnourished children in 2015-16 among municipal schools was found in grade I – 42 percent for boys and 43 percent for girls. Most join schools from anganwadis (courtyard shelters or creches), run under the ICDS,” said Nitai Mehta, founder of Praja Foundation

The commissioner said that the children are already malnourished before they come to school as they belong to slum area where they do not get healthy food.

“The healthy food is provided to the student on all the civic-run schools. After conducting the health check-up we come to know that the students health is poor due to less intake of proteins and nutritious food. Proper medication for the students is needed,” added Idzes Kundan, Additional Municipal Commissioner.

The rise in diarrhoea cases is correlated with the rise of malnutrition among students at civic-run schools.

Malnutrition UP in higher grades

An estimated 73 per cent of malnourished children in 2015-16 studied between grades I to V, higher than lower in grades. Over a year to 2015-16, malnourished students in grade I increased from 3,123 to 10,802–a rise of 246 per cent. The number of malnourished children in grade V increased from 2,591 to 10,562–a rise of 308 per cent.

Mid Day Meal budget

The budget estimates for the mid-day meal programme rose 10.3 per cent from Rs 29 crore to Rs 32 crore for grade I to V, and 18 per cent from Rs 33 crore to Rs 39 crore for grades VI to VIII, between 2013-14 to 2015-16.

Top malnourished ward

The eastern suburbs of Mankhurd and Govandi – areas packed with slums – reported the highest number (15,038) of malnourished children in 2015-16.  Together, these areas comprise what is called the M/E ward, which has Mumbai’s lowest human development index (0.05), according to the 2009 Mumbai Human Development Report. M/E ward is followed by H/E (Santacruz) and L (Kurla), with 9,100 and 6,586 malnourished children, respectively.