Updated: February 12, 2014 12:24:37 am
The latest malnutrition figures released by the state government suggest that 10.96 per cent of the 52.53 lakh children under five years of age surveyed under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) are underweight.
There is, however, a reduction in the rate of malnutrition amongst children under two.
While a National Family Health Survey carried out in Maharashtra found 29.6 per cent of the surveyed children underweight, the same percentage dipped to 21.8 per cent when the state government carried out a survey based on the same parameters in 2012.
As per ICDS data, collected by aanganwadi workers at a regular interval, 9.38 per cent of the 52.53 lakh children (under age of five) surveyed were moderately underweight while 1.58 per cent are severely underweight.
The highest number of moderately underweight children were found in the districts of Nandurbar, Gadchiroli, Amravati, Thane and Nashik, amongst others. The percentage of severely undernourished children is also highest in these districts. In terms of absolute numbers, Nashik recorded the highest number of severely nourished children at 9,097.
Vandana Krishna, Director General of the Rajmata Jijau Mother-Child Health & Nutrition Mission Team, said a number of state initiatives have brought an overall improvement in the health of both the child and the mother over the past decade. “Instances of stunting have also reduced from 39 per cent in 2005 to 22.8 per cent in 2012,” she said, adding that the sample size of 52.53 lakh is nearly half of the total population of children below five years in the state.
As per ICDS data, only 67.6 per cent of children in the state are breastfed within the first hour of birth and only 63.5 per cent of children are given only breastfeed for the first six months after birth. While 91.9 per cent of children are breastfed for the first year after birth, 71.5 per cent are breastfed till two years of age. Around 72.8 per cent of children are adequately breastfed but only 10.3 per cent are given adequately balanced diet after six months.
Moreover, 34.1 per cent of mothers get married before the age of 18. The survey found that 82.6 per cent of mothers had institutionalized delivery.
However, a staggering 40.7 per cent mothers have a Body Mass Index of less than 18.5.
The Maharashtra government launched the “1000 days for a child” campaign in November last year that aims at providing all the necessary nourishment to the child during the first 1000 days, which starts after conception and lasts till the child is two years old.
Varsha Gaikwad, Minister of the Women and Child Development, said that state has organized a day long training program of keertankaars (psalmodists) on Thursday, who will in turn address crowds in rural and tribal areas to raise awareness about the dos and don’ts of mother and child health.
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