The health department has instructed all chief medical officers (CMOs) to arrange training programmes for medical officers and nurses posted in various sub-divisional district hospitals,rural block,and primary health care centres,owing to their lack of knowledge about the quality of treatment provided to the severely acute malnourished (SAM) children .
An order was issued on May 7,and it was mentioned that the medical officers (MOs) and nurses should conduct routine laboratory tests on the severely malnourished children on a daily basis. Medical officers have been instructed to conduct routine check-ups every morning and evening,and the CMOs to monitor their work and report to the department monthly.
The MOs must carry out the admission procedure,including screening at OPD and check up during the follow-up visits. A nutritionist must assist the MOs during admission,discharge and follow-up,the order stated.
Senior officials of the health department said around 1,500 MOsand 1,000 nurses posted in various PHC,BPHC and rural hospitals do not have any idea how to provide adequate treatment to these children. As a result,most of them are being referred to state-run medical hospitals.
According to the statistics provided by the state health department,around one million children die every year in the country due to acute malnourishment. Mortality rate in SAM children is nine times higher than in well nourished children.
In West Bengal,around 50,000 babies die each year of malnutrition. Going by the statistics given by the state health department,the mortality rate is highest in Malda followed by Cooch Behar,North Dinajpur,Bankura and Purulia.
It was found that institutional deliveries increased in Malda Medical College and Hospital after a sick-new-born care unit was set up in December. In December 2011,it was found that 1,458 children were admitted at the hospital and 72 babies died,while in the month of January this year,the number of admissions came down to 525 and the death toll increased to 109.
In Cooch Behar,149 babies were admitted between July-September 2011 and of them 57 died,while in North Dinajpur,the number of admissions came down to 123 and 24 of the children died. Interestingly,in Bankura the number of admission although had increased to 260,the number of child deaths between this period remained around 18.
It may be noted that for reducing infant mortality rate and to provide adequate care to SAM children,the state health department has decided to set up 10 nutritional rehabilitation centres in 2011-12 and 25 centres will be set up in the next financial year. The DPR of 10 centres is being prepared.
Asit Biswas,spokesperson of the state health department,said they are also sending additional doctors to rural areas so that they could train the MOs on ways to improve the quality of treatment to be delivered to SAM children with limited infrastructure.