DNA EXCLUSIVE: Poor diet takes toll on children

Malnutrition mortalities high among infants in Maharashtra

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DNA EXCLUSIVE: Poor diet takes toll on children

Maharashtra government may have come third on the NITI Aayog's health index on Tuesday, but that cannot redeem a horrific shame: Incidents of child malnutrition as well malnutrition deaths are on the rise.

As per the data available up to February 2019, 73,721 children are malnourished; and 1,829 children under one and 551 children under five years of age have already been claimed by malnutrition.

Social worker Pratibha Shinde lauds the government's attempts to tackle malnutrition but blames the system for failed execution of schemes and policies.

"This year," says the Shinde, who works in Tribal areas, "Nandurbar was the epicentre of child deaths due to malnutrition, following Melghat and Jalgaon. The drought is also a major reason behind the rising deaths, as migration has increased in the tribal belt. Malnourished children suffer the most during migration as they do not get proper food and timely care, which results in morality."

Her suggestion is that the government change its approach. "The government has a prescribed diet for malnourished children however, they should be fed variety food and cannot eat the same items again and again," she says. "We have to also understand the demands of children in the tribal belt. Pre-primary schools are not in pukka buildings but in unhygienic places, where children don't get clean water to drink. Daycare centres are also not run properly.

Shinde adds that employment of parents of such children is also crucial to their safety and recuperation.

Dhananjay Munde, NCP MLC and state Leader of Opposition (LoP) said that while Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis talks about turning the state into trillion dollar economy by 2025, he should instead focus on the basic needs of people.

Pankaja Munde, Minister for Women and Child Development, and Shiv Sena's Eknath Shinde could not be reached for comment.

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