No child should die of malnutrition
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Malnutrition has been widely acknowledged as one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality among children in the early years of childhood.
The recent deaths of three girls in National Capital territory of Delhi due to starvation or malnutrition evidently shows that how deep the problem is but dealt with narrow understanding.
Delhi's Malnutrition Statistics:
Delhi being the Capital presents a sorry picture on the issue of malnutrition. Below are few statistics from different sources:
1. From 2010-2016, 331 children till 14 years of age died due to malnutrition
(Registration of Births & Deaths, Annual Report).
2. In 2017-18 out of 3, 42,027 children screened in 298 government
schools, 1,13,358 children were found underweight whereas in 2016-
17 out of 2,99,693 children screened in 323 schools 1,12,330 children
were found underweight (RTI Reply, 2018).
3. In December 2017, of 4,69,458 children age less than six years who
were screened for growth monitoring as part of ICDS programme in
Delhi, 1,03,352 were found malnourished (RTI Reply, 2018).
To have public involvement towards pushing for addressing the problem of hidden hunger, a youth led Freedom from Malnutrition Campaign has started throughout Delhi.
The objectives of the campaign are:
1. Community sensitization and awareness to create mass movement on the issue of malnutrition
2. Campaigning to reaching out to the representatives of political parties which include Member of Parliaments and MLAs for effective implementation of nutrition schemes, monitoring and evaluation, increasing budgets for nutrition programmes
3. Sending Petitions to Government of Delhi - My Appeal to CM of Delhi to seek government's action on 'Six-Demands'.
This problem requires long term commitment on the part of public and government. The said petition will be sent to Delhi Chief Minister, Shri Arvind Kejriwal and Minister, Deparment of Women & Child Development, Govt. of NCT of Delhi that the following steps must be taken so that no child dies of starvation or malnutrition
The demands are-
1. Constitution of State Food Commission which is pending since 2013 with Delhi Government to improve accountability and transparency in implementation of nutrition schemes under the National Food Security Act, 2013
2. That there must be a State Plan of Action on Malnutrition with a Budget for its implementation
3. Extension of Mid-Day Meal for children of class 9th-12th studying in 'government and government aided schools' already promised by Delhi Government in 2017-18 budget
4. There must be addition of Egg, Banana and Milk in school mid-day meal and supplementary nutrition in ICDS centres
5. Social Auditing of nutrition programmes on periodic basis due to poor quality of nutrition being served to children
6. Food distribution system in schools and ICDS Centres in Delhi must get de-centralized by establishing 'community kitchens'
Piyush (name changed) was born to Rakesh-Mala in Delhi at merely 1.5 kg at birth and needed immediate interventions to restore his health and nutritional status. Government services meant for him didn't reach leading to deterioration of his health. The doctor at the emergency ward, when checked declared that due to prolonged illness and under nutrition, he got severe Vitamin-D deficiency and would have life long physical impairment on his body. Like Piyush, there many children who end up facing the consequences- physically and mentally due to the lack of access to their basic rights. (Names changed for privacy purposes)
Following are secondary sources, mainly news headlines on the issue of malnutrition:
1. One in 4 urban children under the age of 5 suffer from malnutrition, Delhi tops list: Survey
2. Deaths due to malnutrition on the rise in Delhi
3. Delhi And Other Indian Cities Have Child Malnutrition Levels Akin To Sub-Saharan Africa
4. Capital shame: Children are going hungry in Delhi because govt schemes are poorly implemented
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