FPJ Special: State Malnutrition Eradication Task Force Chairman Dr Deepak Sawant Calls For Special Cell To Monitor Undernutrition In Cities

FPJ Special: State Malnutrition Eradication Task Force Chairman Dr Deepak Sawant Calls For Special Cell To Monitor Undernutrition In Cities

Last year, a survey conducted by the woman and child department revealed that malnutrition is not an issue confined only to remote areas of the state. As per data, 23,040 children in urban and rural parts of Thane district were below average weight, which is a sign of malnutrition.

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Wednesday, November 08, 2023, 10:07 AM IST
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State Malnutrition Eradication Task Force Chairman Dr Deepak Sawant |

Mumbai: Malnutrition among children not just ails rural parts of Maharashtra but also metropolitan cities, especially the slums, said Dr Deepak Sawant, chairman of the State Malnutrition Eradication Taskforce. Dr Sawant was a guest at Free Press House on Tuesday and spoke to journalists from the Free Press Journal.

Calling for a special cell to monitor malnutrition in cities, Dr Sawant said that the problem can exacerbate among the urban poor owing to inadequate breastfeeding, maternal anaemia and poor dietary habits of expectant mothers such as consumption of fast food or observing fasts for extended periods.

He said, “The official 1:100 ratio of malnutrition means one in urban parts and 100 in rural parts of Maharashtra. However, it’s not the correct representation as cases in urban areas are not reported because people visit private medical practitioners. In cities, people sometimes eat less or follow a crash diet, even consume more junk food and keep an unhealthy lifestyle, which all are contributors.”

Staff To Be Deployed To Monitor Malnutrition Cases

Meanwhile, medical officers in each district will deploy staff to monitor malnutrition cases in their areas. “Most of the hidden cases will be found in slums such as Dharavi and Govandi, which requires special attention. At the same time, cases of severe malnutrition have reduced drastically by 32% since last year across Maharashtra; this year, the number of such cases are 626,” he said.

Last year, a survey conducted by the woman and child department revealed that malnutrition is not an issue confined only to remote areas of the state. As per data, 23,040 children in urban and rural parts of Thane district were below average weight, which is a sign of malnutrition.

In another survey conducted in March this year, it was revealed that 1,00,164 children weighed below average due to malnutrition in six districts of Konkan. In Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Palghar, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg, the government conducted a weight test of 9,83,583 children and found 8,83,419 children with average weight. There were 88,636 children with medium low weight and 11,528 with very low weight, indicating that malnutrition is still a big issue in several parts of the state.

Health Officials On Schemes Related To Child Health

Senior health official from the state health department said that the government is running various schemes like the Integrated Child Development Services Programme and Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Amrut Ahar Scheme to ensure nutritious food to children and their mother for proper growth of children in rural, tribal and slum areas.

“Under the Integrated Child Development Services Programme, the government provides fresh and nutritious food to pregnant women and children between the ages of six months and three years. Under the Kalam Amrut Ahar scheme, pregnant women and new mothers get one nutritious meal and children from six months to six years get eggs or bananas four days in a week,” the officer said. Health experts have also raised concerns over fewer malnutrition cases being reported in Mumbai or other urban areas as health screenings took a backseat during the pandemic, further impacting immunisation and counselling of children.

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