by Vikram Jethwani Bhopal. The Pioneer Bhopal Feb 23, 2007
....between the ages of 6 and 35 monthsEighty two of every 100 children, between the ages of six and 35 months, in Madhya Pradesh suffer from anaemia, a serious ailment related to abnormal deficiency of red blood cells. Not only does the report of National Family Health Survey III (NFHS-3) fly in the face of Government claims but it specifically raises a point of concern revealing that the number of children suffering from anaemia increased substantially during 2005-06 in comparison to the previous years.
The NFH Survey (NFHS-2) of 1998-99 had reported that 75 per cent of the children were anaemic. It is alarming to learn that instead of improving rhe situation has deteriorated in Madhya Pradesh over the last seven years. Compare this with Chhattisgarh's example where there has been a decline in the same period from 87.7 percent marked in 1998-99 to 81 per cent in 2005-06. Maharashtra too has improved from 76 to 71.9 per cent.
Pediatricians explained that anaemia makes children more vulnerable to dangerous infectious diseases like tuberculosis, cholera, jaundice, typhoid and also stunts their mental and physical development..
The Women and Child department of Madhya Pradesh has been running the nation-wide Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme in the State. Under it, a sum of Rs 2 per day , shared equally by the Centre and the State Governments , is sanctioned for supplementary nutrition to a child," Principal Secretary of the department and member of the nationwide sub-group on ICDS and nutrition Prashant Mehta told The Pioneer. The scheme applies to children between the ages of six months and six years, he added.
According to the country head of United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) health division M Babille, Madhya Pradesh is the worst hit by anaemia and compares poorly even with others like Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan that suffer anaemia rates as high as 79 and 79.8 percent, respectively. Even Bihar, traditionally considered a laggard in civic and health matters is ahead of Madhya Pradesh. Linked to the high incidence of anaemia among children is the appallingly high rate of malnutrition among the young. The recent claim made by the State that only 49.2 percent of the children suffered from malnutrition is in contrast to the finding of the NFHS-2 which had recorded it at 54 per cent.
It is never too late to implement a comprehensive plan to eradicate both anaemia and malnutrition in children of the State after all they represent out tomorrow.