January 4, 2017 4:25:09 am
Following a mutual agreement with the state government, through enthusiastic participation of five private hospitals, malnutrition cases in the district of Palghar have been brought down from 43,865 to 7,562 in over three months. Palghar reported the highest malnutrition-related deaths in Maharashtra during last monsoon. Five major hospitals — Jaslok, Hinduja, Global, Wadia and Surya Child Care — will continue their efforts with anganwadi workers and rural doctors in 2017 to improve nutrition intake of children below six years of age in Palghar. In weekly camps, more than 800 children are screened and treated for malnourishment.
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Wadia Hospital, which has adopted Palghar and Dahanu regions, is not just conducting health check-ups, but has also started distributing iron biscuits to children for free. “We are monitoring their haemoglobin levels closely which are very low. The biscuits are easy to consume and children friendly. We hope it will help increase the haemoglobin count,” said Dr Minnie Bodhanwala, CEO of Wadia hospital. Every week, 10 to 15 severely acute malnourished (SAM) children are admitted to the Parel-based hospital for urgent medical attention.
“Anganwadi workers accompany the kids and counsel the parents to allow hospitalisation. Specialised care has improved the overall malnourishment issue,” she added.
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Currently, Palghar district has only four state government appointed pediatricians. With involvement of private specialised doctors, critical children are getting treated immediately.
In Talasari, a team of pediatricians, nurses, nutritionists and gynaecologists from Surya Childcare Hospital found that 70 per cent children were undernourished in September when they first started weekly screening. “We counsel mothers about proper nutrition they can manage in limited income. Every week, the weight and height of children are measured to check if growth is proper,” said nutritionist Parina Joshi.
In cases of hospitalisation, NICU doctors are also sent to monitor the child in rural hospitals. “Our focus is on nutrition. We are also screening kids for congenital defects and other diseases,” Dr Kishor Haruguli.
Jaslok hospital has held five camps in Mokhada and screened 270 children. “We have one pediatrician who visits different public health centers,” said Dr Tarang Gianchandani, CEO at the hospital.
According to Health Minister Deepak Sawant, the participation of private hospitals has significantly curbed deaths due to malnutrition. “We have also requested to screen pregnant women and ensure their nutrition intake is adequate. The idea is to bring down both maternal and nenonatal mortality,” Sawant said.
By November end, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) recorded 1,751 severely acute and 5,811 moderately acute malnourished (MAM) children in entire district. The count of moderately acute was a significant 35,449 in September last year.
According to ICDS, 70 per cent children have shown improvement in terms of weight gain since September. The state government is also set to start four new nutrition rehabilitation centers (NRCs) for critically malnourished kids.
Hinduja hospital that is tackling malnourishment in Jawahar taluka, is also running mobile health units. The doctors have already counselled 935 pregnant and lactating women. It diagnosed 147 new malnourished kids of 538 screened, and began their treatment at local level to improve weight.
While change in climate and decline in infectious diseases is one reason for the huge fall in malnourishment in the last three months, re-starting children treatment centers and village child development centers (VCDC) helped treat 8,050 children in villages.
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