HYDERABAD: Anaemia continues to haunt the state of Telangana with at least 14 of the 17 constituencies being more anaemic than the rest of the country. The average anaemia prevalence was pegged at 56.8 per cent of the total population of children in India, however in Telangana at least 60-70 per cent of the children being anaemic.
This was found in the study by Prof S V Subramanian, and research associate Rockli Kim of the Harvard University, whose study helped in tracking how each of the 543 constituencies and their MPs fared in terms of prevalence of malnutrition among children.
Since a majority of the nutrition programs like ICDS are primarily funded by the Centre, the study implies a need for policy interventions by the State as well.
In the last 5 years, some MPs have also raised questions around these issues for instance about Pre-packaged ICDS food, Miday-meals, Human milk bank etc.
While on the whole, the country had an average level of 56.8 per cent of anaemia among the children below five years of age, Telangana did especially worse. Among most anaemic constituencies was Khammam whose MP was TRS’ Ponguleti Srinivasa Reddy.
The constituency had a whooping 70.7 per cent of its children below five years, affected by anaemia. This made Khammam one of the worst performing parliamentary constituencies.
Being anaemic reflects low haemoglobin levels in a person which greatly impacts the energy levels and performance, especially that of children. Other districts like Nalgonda, Zahirabad and Bhongir also had high levels of anaemia. Districts like Hyderabad, Malkajgiri and Secunderabad had 58.2 per cent, 53.5 per cent and 64.1 per cent of their children respectively affected by anaemia.
The study which is a first-of-its-kind and important as policies to eradicate malnutrition often are targeted district wise, which are 640 in number as against 543 MP’s responsible for their constituencies.
The study notes, “There are no political representatives, equivalent to MPs in the case for parliamentary Constituencies, directly accountable for the performance at district level. At the same time, there is no systematic evidence on key developmental measures at the parliamentary constituency level to guide Parliamentarians.
This disconnection -- between the unit at which policy discussions occur and where political actions are undertaken -- results in a missed opportunity for more efficient, data-driven programming and robust policy evaluations.”