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NHRC notice to Kerala Government on deaths due to malnourishment

Friday, 18 July 2014 - 11:47pm IST | Agency: PTI

NHRC has issued a notice to the Kerala Government to show cause why Rs one lakh each as interim relief should not be granted to the families of 38 tribal children who died due to malnutrition and inaction on their part in administering the welfare schemes in time.

"The National Human Rights Commission has taken a serious note of the inaction on part of the Kerala Government in miserably failing to provide medical facilities in Attappady area of District Palakkad where 38 tribal children had died due to malnourishment and 849 patients were identified for regular treatment after the Commission took cognisance of the matter," a statement issued by the commission said.

NHRC Member Justice D Murugesan through the show cause notice has also asked the Chief Secretary to submit a report indicating the action taken to prevent the occurring of such deaths due to malnutrition in future and medical facilities provided to the pregnant women in Attappady and other affected areas of Palakkad district, Kerala, within four weeks.

The Commission took the cognisance of the matter on the basis of complaints about malnourishment and that 27 tribal children had died due to malnutrition in Attappady area.

It was also alleged that 500 cases of malnutrition and 412 cases of Anaemia were detected between January, 2012 to April, last year.

The Kerala Government submitted a report indicating that 38 children had died and majority of them were infants, who died due to either pre-mature birth or low birth weight and they did not need any nutrition intervention on part of the Government.

As regards poor maternal health and malnutrition in expectant mothers, it was stated that steps had been taken to improve the situation by distribution of vitamin A and administering iron/folic acid injections, blood transfusion etc. to malnourished women.

Further, improvements had been made in the Government Tribal Speciality Hospital, Kottathara by creating 75 additional posts of workers for treatment to the patients.
In response to notices in connection with another complaint on the same issue, the State Government admitted that during enquiry 849 patients were identified for regular treatment in the Attappady area and they were being treated by mobile medical units.
Apart from distribution of medical kits in the areas under National Rural Health Mission, distribution of milk, eggs, fruits, food grains to the patients had also been started. The wage arrears to the tune of Rs.25 lakh under MNREGA had also been cleared.
Though the Commission did not receive the comments of the complainants on the reports of the State Government, it observed that the State Government woke up after the cognisance of the malnourishment among children and women in Attappady area was taken by it.

The Commission observed that had the State Administration been functional earlier, the death of 38 tribal children could be avoided and payment of outstanding wages under MNREGA after the deaths of children and malnutrition in women indicated the "callous attitude" of the State Government towards the fundamental rights of the citizens for food and livelihood.

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