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Maha govt submits plan in HC to address malnutrition in tribal areas

🔴 The government said that 249 anganwadi centers were sanctioned in Dharni, which are still functioning. It added that the concerned department has approved starting hot cooked meals instead of providing Take Home Ration (THR) in Melghat from January 16.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
January 6, 2022 2:03:51 am
malnutrition in tribal areas maharashtraReferring to a August 2021 survey, the government said that while there were 23,177 children in Dharni in the 0-6 age group, Melghat had 14,699 children in the 6 months-6 years age group. (File/Representative Image)

The Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) Scheme implementing authority in Maharashtra, along with the state women and children development department, on Tuesday submitted an action plan before the Bombay High Court on how to deal with malnutrition issues faced by infants as well as expecting and lactating mothers in tribal areas, including Melghat.

The action plan, among other measures, stated that while there are severe and moderate acute malnutrition cases in Dharni and Melghat among infants, the anganwadis – through ASHA workers – are making efforts to identify pregnant mothers as soon as pregnancy is detected so that they can be enrolled for nutritional food supplements, which women currently can avail only from the third month of pregnancy.

A division bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta had last month directed the Maharashtra government to prepare by January 3 a short-term plan to address the issue of deaths due to malnutrition in Melghat, following a visit of Special Inspector General (Nashik Range) Chhering Dorje to the region.

Dorje, who submitted a detailed report on his visit, had noted early marriages of girls and reluctance among tribals to approach healthcare facilities.

He had said that an inter-departmental impact assessment is required to resolve issues causing malnutrition.

The bench has been hearing a bunch of PILs on malnutrition among children in Melghat, including those filed by Dr Rajendra Burma and activist Bandu Sampatrao Sane, alleging that not much progress has been made to alleviate the suffering of tribals.

The affidavit filed through Gokul Deore, Deputy Commissioner (Health and Nutrition), ICDS scheme, said that instructions have been issued to all district programme officers in Amravati division to register pregnant women for supplementary nutrition as soon as pregnancy is detected.

The government said that 249 anganwadi centers were sanctioned in Dharni, which are still functioning. It added that the concerned department has approved starting hot cooked meals instead of providing Take Home Ration (THR) in Melghat from January 16.

The government further said that it has filled up majority of vacant posts of anganwadi workers. Of the sanctioned 477 posts, 471 in Melghat and Dharni regions have been filled up. Moreover, between January 15 and 31, special screening of children with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) will be held.

Referring to a August 2021 survey, the government said that while there were 23,177 children in Dharni in the 0-6 age group, Melghat had 14,699 children in the 6 months-6 years age group. It added that Dharni had 1,660 MAM cases and Melghat 751. Similarly, Dharni reported 187 cases of SAM and Melghat 102 cases. ‘

The plan invited regular impact assessment by a neutral organisation to ascertain if the anganwadis are serving their purposes. It also said that recorded cellphone messages and WhatsApp chatbots are being used to advise on the nutritional needs of infants and pregnant women.

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