KOLKATA: The number of children suffering from stunting, impaired growth and development caused by poor nutrition has increased in many districts in West Bengal, including the five where the Centre had launched the Poshan Abhiyaan in 2018.
The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) in 2014-2015 revealed that 32.5% children below six-year-old were victims of stunting in West Bengal. The rate increased to 33.8% in the 2019-20 survey. According to the government’s survey, three children out of 10 fell victim of stunting issue.
Poshan Abhiyaan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s overarching scheme for holistic nutrition, is the Centre’s flagship scheme to improve nutrition outcomes for children – launched in 2018. The principal goals of the initiative are improving nutritional status of children up to six years old.
In 2018, the initiative was launched in 235 districts which were identified as worst-hit pockets. In Bengal, 12 districts were included in the initiative among which five recorded increase in stunting. The five districts are Darjeeling, Nadia, Paschim Medinipur, East Burdwan and West Burdwan.
Before Poshan Abhiyaan was launched in 2018, the fourth NFHS was conducted. The fifth survey was completed in 2019-20. The last survey revealed the stunting rate among children bellow six years increased by 1.3 per cent.
Other than the five districts, which were included in the Poshan Abhiyaan in 2018 where stunting rate increased, other pockets adjoining to the state capital also witnessed children falling victims of malnutrition with impaired growth.
“The survey revealed 29.6 per cent of children had impaired growth because of poor nutrition. It means, three children out of 10 are victim of stunting. The rate is higher in Kolkata’s adjoining North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas districts,” said an official of the state health department.