With the Bombay High Court recently being told that there was no significant decline in child and maternal deaths in areas such as Melghat, Nandurbar, Nashik and Yavatmal despite several directions of the court, it has now asked the state whether food and nutrients are being provided to pregnant women and newborn children.
The High Court was hearing a bunch of PILs regarding malnutrition among children in Melghat region.
A report by the state Women and Child Development department shows that in Melghat, Amravati, 500 children on an average die every year, against its population of three lakh.
In 2013-14, the number of child deaths rose to 600 and in 2014-15 another 426 children died in just two blocks of Melghat.
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“We have been informed that in spite of the directions given by this Court, there is no significant decline in the trend of child and maternal deaths in these areas as these directions have not been complied with. Several reports have been submitted by UNICEF and other NGOs working in tribal areas. The child deaths is on account of malnutrition. We have further been told that pediatricians have not been posted in these areas, further aggravating the problem,” said Justice Kanade.
The High Court has now directed the state government to inform this court on several aspects including whether any action has been taken on these reports relating to the situation in Melghat, whether any qualified pediatrician is appointed or is working in that area and if food and nutrients are being provided to pregnant women and newborn children.
“Similarly, we would also like to know whether in other areas, namely, Nashik, Thane, Nandurbar and Yavatmal, medical facilities are provided to these children and whether any doctor is available for their treatment,” added the Court.
Last year, the High Court had convened a special hearing on this issue which was attended by different stakeholders.
In the meeting, it was highlighted that doctors and particularly specialists are not always available at Primary Health Centres and government hospitals in tribal areas.
The state government was asked to consider providing reservations for admissions to post graduate medical courses and other health courses in favour of doctors who render services in such tribal areas and consider granting reservations of seats in MBBS course in favour of students who study in schools in hilly tribal