Friday, August 14, 2015
The Maharashtra State Health Minister, Dr Deepak Sawant, has revealed chilling statistics by admitting that 16 children die in Mumbai everyday. He blamed communicable diseases, diarrhoea and respiratory problems to be the cause of this chilling statistic. However, health experts identify malnutrition as the probable cause for these deaths.
The shocking revelation was made by the minister in the recently concluded monsoon session of the Assembly. According to experts, malnutrition is routinely seen in Mumbai’s urban slums and is akin to the malnutrition seen among the poorest families in tribal areas.
Lack of clean water, sanitation and employment of mothers in the unorganised sector preventing them from breastfeeding children at regular intervals are some of the root causes. In addition to this, several women themselves have a low body mass index (BMI) and beget low birth weight children. This vicious cycle of poor nutrition and infections could claim young lives feel health experts.
So what is the Government’s plan to counter this dismal statistic? The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is registering and vaccinating pregnant women, conducting pre- and post-delivery health check-ups, promoting breastfeeding, and providing iron and Vitamin A tablets to avert these deaths. In addition, guidance on nutrition and personal cleanliness is also being imparted to mothers. The BMC is in the process of establishing a committee to screen deaths of newborns and infants.
Malnutrition per se is not a disease but it could lead to infections, diarrhoea, and vomiting. This can be further exacerbated by neglect, ignorance and gender bias. Experts believe declaring malnutrition as an epidemic and percolating neonatal care facilities to the ground level could be the solution.
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