State to look into ‘alarming malnutrition rate’
Centre, on receiving report by civil society groups, issues directive to State
The State government has directed an ‘inquiry’ into a report of civil society groups that found alarming malnutrition rate among tribal communities in Rayagada district. Welt Hunger Hlife, a Germany-based organisation, in association with a local non-government organisation, had carried out a study on food, nutrition and education assessing the situation of 2050 households in 52 villages in six pre-dominantly tribal panchayats of Bissamcuttack and Muniguda blocks in Rayagada district.
The report, which was submitted to the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, says “in a time frame of 12 months, 23 deaths of children below one year out of 171 live births was reported. This roughly amounts to 131deaths per 1000 which is much higher than the reported district level IMR of 83/1000; while State level IMR is recorded to be 69/1000. Ironically a sizeable percentage of lactating mothers (87 per cent) were registered within the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS).” “Twelve per cent of the total sampled 693 children under five years of age were found to be severely wasted. 75 per cent of children under five were found to be stunted out of which 55 per cent were severely stunted,” it finds.
The report attributes the malnutrition to low birth weight, faulty lactating and weaning practices, lack of hygiene practices and high prevalence of diseases. “The ICDS does not have any significant effect on improving the nutrition status of small children even though most of the pregnant mothers or children are registered within the programme,” civil society groups allege.
“Poor educational level and the prevailing nutritional status are directly linked as lack of knowledge perpetuates faulty weaning and feeding practices and unhygienic practices,” they say.
The groups say the reason for lack of resources to afford expenses was dysfunctional Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in the study area. As per the findings, 58 per cent of those surveyed haven't got even a single day's work despite their registration. Moreover, Public Distribution System (PDS) is functioning better than the other prevalent schemes though it is irregular in terms of adequate supplies and opening of the ration shops.
The report recommends urgent interventions such as setting up of nutrition rehabilitation centres in order to treat severely malnourished children. “Though such centers have been set up in Odisha and other States of the country to rehabilitate children, it is yet to be set up in Rayagada,”organisations find. They further suggest the ICDS requires attention by the decision makers in order to improve the supervision system, supplies as well as the capacities and working conditions of the Anganwadi workers. Taking note of the disturbing trend in the findings, the Union government asked the State government to examine it on ground. Director of WCD department Sujata Karthikeyan asked Rayagada Collector to take steps. Source: The Hindu