India

Maharashtra: 3 tribal districts account for one-fourth of severely underweight children

Three tribal-dominated districts account for a fourth of the severely malnourished children in Maharashtra, latest survey by anganwadis conducted in April shows.

Of the 83,909 children found severely underweight, Nandurbar, Gadchiroli and Palghar accounted for 24.7 per cent of the cases.

In all, 60.6 lakh children were surveyed, of whom over 10 per cent were found to be underweight.

Both in absolute numbers and percentage wise, Nandurbar accounts for the most severely malnourished children. Anganwadi workers in this tribal-dominated district in north Maharashtra weighed 1.45 lakh children and found 33 per cent of them underweight. While 11,008 were severely underweight, 37,238 were moderately underweight.

“We are considering underweight children as malnourished,” a women and child development (WCD) department official said.

Gadchiroli and Palghar followed closely. Gadchiroli found 25 per cent of its children underweight, with 3,986 severely underweight among the 76,059 surveyed.

Palghar, meanwhile, found 23 per cent children underweight among the 1.72 lakh surveyed.

There were 5,860 severely underweight and 34,373 moderately underweight children in the district.

Amravati district, where the tribal belt of Melghat is located, reported 15 per cent of its children as underweight.

It is not just tribal areas, urban areas too reported a high malnourishment rate.

Mumbai surveyed 2.89 lakh children and found 15 per cent of them underweight. Among them, 39,361 were moderately and 3,896 were severely underweight. The city also witnessed the other end of spectrum with some children being recorded as obese due to high intake of junk food.

Thane and Nashik each noted 13 per cent of underweight children.

Across Maharashtra, 83,909 children were found severely underweight. A significant 5.28 lakh were moderately underweight.

In March, the WCD department had admitted 4,973 severely malnourished children in village child development centres, where extra meals are provided to children to improve their nutrition.

At least 4,843 children were given energy dense nutritious food (EDNF) – a readymade paste with micro nutrients to ensure that the children gain normal weight. Data shows that EDNF was given to maximum children (1,004) in Nandurbar.

In Gadchiroli, 685 children were enrolled in the programme. Amravati and Palghar, however, saw only 140 and 181 children, respectively, being given EDNF.

Palghar had reported 40 deaths of malnourished children in April and May, data released by the zilla parishad shows.

The WCD department has begun tracking migrant families, their children, pregnant and lactating women by issuing them pink and green “poshan cards” to ensure their nutrition intake does not stop when they move from one district to another.


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