75 thousand kids underweight in Gulbarga
By Ramkrishna Badseshi | ENS | Published: 24th July 2013 08:01 AM |
Even as the State assembly discusses the recent death of young Meghala in Bangalore, reportedly due to malnutrition, over 75,000 children aged below six have been found to be underweight in the backward Gulbarga district.
According to official figures available with Express, 65,082 children in the 3,034 anganwadis are underweight, with the highest number of 10,178 in Union Minister Mallikarjun M Kharge’s former assembly constituency of Chittapur. Of the children who are outside the anganwadi system, 8,561 were underweight in urban areas and 1,842 in rural areas.
“Of these, 2,600 children were found to be severely underweight. Fortunately, we have not had a death due to malnutrition in the last one year,” an official told Express.
Activist Y Mariswamy of Samaja Parivarthana Janandolana said Gulbarga, along with Belgaum, Bagalkot, Bijapur and Raichur, had witnessed severe cases of malnourishment among children. “The government needs to hold regular health check-ups for the identified malnourished children, implement the eggs-and-milk scheme for the severely malnourished. We also need to give vegetables to all children,” he contended.
Mariswamy said most people in the districts were not even aware of nutrition rehabilitation centres and modified nutrition rehabilitation centres set up by the government in all districts. “There is even a stipend of Rs 100 per day for the parents to admit their children to these centres. But there is no awareness. Also, people think it is humiliating to admit that their child is malnourished. This mindset has to go. We have to treat the disease, not let our children die,” he added.
Dr Arundhati Patil, senior paediatrician at Basaveshwara Hospital, said nutritious food given once a week at anganwadis is not enough to tackle the problem. “The children are underweight because their mothers are illiterate, economically backward and undernourished themselves. They do not give enough time gap between delivering two children. The conditions in their homes are unhygenic, there is no safe drinking water and they have no money to give the children nutritious food to supplement the anganwadis,” she rued.