10 per cent kids in Maharashtra malnourished, says ICDS report

Mumbai: According to a recent report, which was prepared in April by the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), 10 per cent children of the state out of the total 60.69 lakh were found to be moderate or severely underweight as per nutritional standards. The officials said that the rise in malnutrition also seems to be correlated to the drought situation, which they are trying to combat through ‘Village Child Development Centre’ (VCDC) scheme.

He further added that they have also proposed to set up VCDCs in non-tribal areas. “Restricting VCDCs only in tribal areas, ICDS will be able to reach only less than half of the total children who fall under the severely acute malnutrition (SAM) category (a life-threatening condition) in the state,” said a senior health official.

The fight to eradicate malnutrition has so far been restricted to tribal areas, which have reported deaths, and high incidence of SAM and MAM (moderately acute malnutrition) among infants. The VCDCs in the Anganwadi here have been helpful in addressing the issue to an extent, especially in Palghar and Amravati districts.

The report of ICDS also revealed that nearly 79,619 children under the age of five have been categorised as severely underweight in the state. “The figures are a reversal of the trend in the state, which had been reporting a drop in child malnutrition every year,” said an official.

The ICDS is a national welfare scheme under the commissioner of Women and Child Development (WCD) that provides additional food to children below five years under the Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) with an aim to combat malnutrition. The tribal areas have recorded 29,384 cases of severely underweight and 131186 cases of moderate underweight children in April.

A report, submitted in the month of April, suggests that out of 60,69,756 children, from the age group of 0-5 years, 552746 (9.11%) were found to be Moderately Underweight (MUW) and 79619 (1.31%) were Severely Underweight (SUW). Moreover, as far as nutrition status of children is concerned, rural areas (6.25% MUW children) and tribal areas (14.61% % MUW children) have done better than urban areas (15.39% MUW children) of the state.

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