Malnutrition is a major concern, especially in the current Pandemic situation. In 2016 and 2018, more than 1,100 children died due to malnutrition in Maharashtra’s Palghar district alone. According to a recent study, three out of five tribal children in the district are stunted and more than half of them are underweight.
WHO defines Malnutrition as “Under-nutrition which leads to Stunting (low height for age), Wasting (low weight for height), and micronutrient deficiencies on the one hand, and overweight or obesity on the other hand.”
Statistics from the health checkups done in 2018-19 in the Municipal schools of Mumbai show that a significant percentage of children were underweight and a lot of them were deficient in Vitamin A, B, C and D.
All this was recorded in spite of the Government Mid-Day Meal program, which has been providing nutritious khichdi to these children for a few years. This clearly highlights the need for additional nutritional supplements along with a Balanced Diet.
Based on this data, District Governor of Rotary International District 3141, Rtn Sunnil Mehra envisioned an Impactful project which would address this major issue of malnutrition in Mumbai and the District of Palghar.
With this vision in mind the Malnutrition team under the Project Directors Rtn Netra Nairi for Urban and Rtn Bhagwan Patil for Rural, formulated the program “Poshak Aahar” where Rotary has sponsored over 1000 children who are moderately malnourished and need additional nutritional meal supplement for their healthy Development.
A month’s supply of protein-rich snacks was provided to the children from the age group of 2 to 6 years. The height, weight and the health status was recorded. The meal boxes were handed over to the children who were accompanied by their parents mostly mothers and was explained the contents of the box and the instructions of how and when to give it to the children.
The Aanganwadis being closed due to the current pandemic, the beneficiaries identified were from the marginalised groups such as children of sex workers and bar dancers looked after by the NGO’s from slum pockets of Bhandup, Chembur, Ghatkopar, Vile Parle, Bandra and Bombay Central and from the Rural areas of Vikramgadh in the villages of Zadpoli, Sheel, Alonde, Moho, Radepada and Sajan.
From the sample data that was collected in July 2020, in urban areas, the level of malnutrition in the children was about 33%, which is about 15% more than the number recorded in 2017 by the Municipal Corporation.
In rural areas, however, the percentage of children who were malnourished was much higher i.e. 71%. In both the areas however, the level of malnutrition was in the category of MAM or moderately malnourished, which can be easily reversed by giving macro and micronutrient supplements.
In order to improve the weight at birth, Rotary District 3141 under the avenue of malnutrition has started giving nutritional supplements to the pregnant women in the tribal areas to ensure healthy new born babies and combat malnutrition.