BHUBANESWAR: Despite a gamut of schemes and programmes, the nutritional status of children remains far from encouraging in Odisha, says the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS). The rate of stunting and wasting among children has shown only a marginal decline over the last 10 years even as Odisha Government plans to roll out a State Nutrition Action Plan. The NHFS-4 reveals that at least 34.1 per cent children under the age of five are stunted in the State.
In rural areas, the rate is higher at 35.3 per cent whereas in urban Odisha, it stands at 27.2 per cent. In 2005-06, when the NFHS-3 was carried out, the stunting rate was 45 per cent. However, the wasting rate has actually gone up. From 19.6 per cent in NFHS-3, the rate has gone up to 20.4 per cent. In rural areas, it is 20.9 per cent and in urban pockets, it is 17 per cent.
Similarly, the severely wasting rate has risen from 5.2 per cent to 6.4 per cent in the current survey. The survey also shows a large chunk of the children continues to be underweight in the State as the rate stands at 34.4 per cent, down from 40 per cent in 2005-06. In urban Odisha, the underweight rate is 26.2 per cent whereas in rural pockets, it is 35.8 per cent.
The health survey reveals that only about nine per cent children in the six to 23 months age bracket get adequate diet which is defined by the frequency of breastfeeding, solid and liquid food and meals for different age groups since birth.
However, the Government could take heart from the fact that infant and under five mortality has dropped. As per NFHS-4, IMR stands at 40 per 1000 live births ( 43 in rural and 21 in urban areas) as against 65 in NFHS-3. The under-five mortality has seen a sharp fall from 91 to 49 (53 in rural and 25 in urban) in the latest report.
What remains a cause of concern is that prevalence of diarrhoea among children under-five sees a marginal fall though the frequency of ORS and zinc administration has shown marked improvement. More children are also being taken to health facilities after being affected by diarrhoea.
While an entire gamut of nutritional and healthcare coverage - for both mother and child - is responsible for the poor health status of children, the Government is planning to roll out a Nutritional Action Plan. Besides, hot cooked meal for all pregnant and lactating women as well as children with severe acute malnutrition in 15 high burden districts is also in the offing.
The Government is likely to do away with the existing take home ration scheme.