The Gujarat Government has launched a Malnutrition Free Gujarat Maha Abhiyan Mission to reduce cases of nutritional deficiencies across the state. This benefit will be provided to malnourished children, from new-born to six years of age. The scheme will be available in rural areas, talukas, primary healthcare centres, mass healthcare centres, district-level hospitals, medical colleges and health metropolis centres.
Last month, the state recorded 18,819 cases of new-born children with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM). During this period, the Ahmedabad Corporation documented 1445 cases of children with nutritional deficiencies, the second highest in the country, followed by 1376 in Rajkot.
In Banaskantha district, the situation is even dire with 1535 children diagnosed with SAM syndrome. Vadodara Corporation has recorded 1153 such cases and Junagadh Corporation, 1070, while Narmada district has the lowest number with 80 in the SAM category.
It’s more alarming in metros despite the government’s initiatives like midday meals. The staggering SAM numbers in Ahmedabad (1,925), Surat (5,318), Rajkot (3,021) and Vadodara (6,154) tell their own story.
Low birth weight is an early indicator of the public health problem that afflicts the state. Of the 5881 underweight children born in the state last month, 328 belong to Mehsana, 303 to Bharuch and 299 to Anand. The number of malnourished children in Dahod stands at 14,191.
In the entire state, 1,42,142 children are undernourished, of which 1,18,041 are underweight.
Recently, the Gujarat government announced several initiatives like ‘Gujarat Poshan Abhiyan 2020-22’ and ‘Take Home Ration’ to eradicate malnutrition. But, as the numbers suggest, something is seriously amiss in the system. Perhaps, intense community-based management of acute malnutrition programmes and encouraging more Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives are the need of the hour.
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