A survey to identify malnutrition children in Maharashtra has listed as many as 18,914 under severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and 97,876 moderate acute malnutrition (MAM). Over 59 lakh children below six years were surveyed in the last one and a half months as part of the state Women and Child Development department campaign, ‘Nandurbar pattern’.
Of these, the survey has found that 1,578 children need the Nutritional Rehabilitation Centre’s intervention.
“The children identified in the survey will be given proper treatment,” State Integrated and Child Development Scheme commissioner Rubal Agarwal told The Indian Express.
According to the survey, there are 253 children with moderate acute malnutrition in Pune district and 43 need intervention via nutritional rehabilitation centres. Most of the children with MAM and SAM were from Melghat Gadchiroli, Yavatmal, Parbhani, Jalgaon and Nandurbar districts.
As Anganwadi centres were shut due to Covid restrictions, meals were sent home to their families. “We have now urged the state to reopen Anganwadi centres so that children with malnutrition can be called in a staggered manner adopting Covid appropriate behaviour,” Agarwal said.
The Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) under Anganwadi Services and the POSHAN Abhiyaan are important programmes to address the issue of malnutrition in the country, and recently the state health department has also released guidelines towards strengthening end to end management of SAM children.
Rajalakshmi Nair, nutrition specialist with UNICEF (Maharashtra), said the survey is timely as children with comorbid conditions can be identified before a possible third Covid wave. “It is important to screen the children and ensure quality planning in each district,” Nair said.
Pune ZP to use child tracker app
The Pune Zilla Parishad has sought technological support from the Maharashtra Emergency Medical Services to enable them to maintain digital health records of each child in the district. As part of this child tracker app, children below 6 years will be monitored for their health conditions. Each child will be assessed based on their height, weight, body mass index.
Dr Dnyaneshwar Shelke, chief operating officer of MEMS, said that they had taken up an initiative three years ago to set up digital health records of each child at Ashram schools in tribal areas of Amravati, Nandurbar and other districts. After the clinical assessment, children are identified who require medical intervention. This is an annual activity, Dr Shelke said.
Ayush Prasad, CEO of Pune ZP, said the system brings automation to the process of detection. Tracking the health status and development of children is essential to ensure proper nutrition and health of children to prevent infant and child mortality. Current systems allow us to track the child even if the family migrates.
“We are working systematically to ensure that the district is malnourished free. Early tracking of the health problems of children would help us identify children early who need surgical and medical interventions,” Prasad said.