Bhopal: The death of 18 children in Shahdol in the past 12 days has brought to light the weaknesses in the state health system. The number of children dying in tribal areas of the state has also increased. Mandla, Dindori, Alirajpur and other districts have seen deaths of many children. Malnourishment is the most critical factor behind such deaths.
The state has been on top of the list of number of malnourished children for several years. Infant mortality rate across the country is 32 out of 1,000, but in Madhya Pradesh it is 48. The Mother Mortality Ratio in the country is 113 out of 100,000, but in MP, it is 173.
The state government spends Rs 2,000 crore annually on nutritious food. The health department has also launched various schemes for malnourished children. Yet the number of deaths has increased.
When the ‘die’ is cast
* In 2015-16, 23,152 children died.
* In 2016-17, the toll was 22,003.
* In 2017-18, 27,560 children died
* In 2017-18, the number of deaths shot up to 31, 944.
According to right-to-food activist Sachin Jain, only one department is not responsible for such deaths. Malnourishment among children can be wiped out with the help of different departments, he added.
According to Jain, the rising number of deaths of the newborn indicates that their mothers are also weak. The government makes tall claims over fighting malnourishment, but it has never taken any concrete step to eradicate it, he added.
Pregnant women should be given proper diet to stop deaths of newborn. According to health experts, weak babies develop pneumonia in winter, so many of them lose their lives. They say efforts should be made to care about the newborn to stop the rising number of deaths.
Principal secretary of Women and Child Welfare Department Ashok Shah said the government had launched several schemes to wipe out malnourishment and it succeeded in doing that. Women and child welfare officers in each district have been given a target to cure malnourished children, he said. According to Shah, the ACR of the officers will be written on the basis of their performance in dealing with malnourishment.