BHOPAL: As many as 70,000 children aged zero to six years are down with severe acute malnutrition in the state. The above statistics have come to light in a survey of the Women and Child Welfare Department (WCD).
According to the study, more than one third of the children are skin and bone. The examination, done on nearly one million children, indicates that more than four hundred thousand kids are down with malnutrition. They include the ones suffering from severe acute and moderate malnutrition, the survey says. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) generally conducts such surveys, but this time, the department has done it.
According to the study, severe acute malnutrition has hit the children in most of the divisions. The number of children down with moderate acute malnutrition is nearly 3, 50,000. Of the 70,000 severe acute malnourished children, 6,000 have been admitted to Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres (NRC).
Besides the ones admitted to NRCs, other malnourished children are being treated in their homes. Madhya Pradesh has been on top in terms of malnutrition among children across the country for many years.
Keeping that on mind, the department has changed its strategy. For this reason, not only has the department identified severe acute malnutrition cases but also set up a complete monitoring system. The Aganwadi workers and assistants have to do weekly monitoring of such children. Those who have not been admitted to NRC will be given extra healthy food.
The health of those children will be monitored. WCD has called the system of monitoring as Integrated Management of Acute Malnourished Children. Apart from that, a Nutri Garden will be developed to ensure that the severe acute malnourished children get nutritious food. According to principal secretary of WCD, Ashok Shah, the department has made a plan for curing the acute severe malnourished children.
The target is to bring such children on a par with the healthy ones by March 31. A plan has been prepared for the districts, and work will be done accordingly, he said. Social activists Sachin Jain, working towards Right to Food, said unless the other departments work in tandem with the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) it would be difficult to uproot malnutrition. According to him, health, rural development, public health engineering and other departments have to understand their responsibility, and only then, malnutrition can be eradicated. Jain further says the cooperation of other departments is necessary to implement any plan, and if any of them gives a wide berth to their individual responsibility, the scheme fails.