Monday, September 28, 2015
In response to the fact that the children in Attappady are severely malnourished, the Kerala government has started providing a lipid-rich-micronutrient-fortified chocolate flavoured cake for children below 14 years in all 192 hamlets of the area.
This experimental project is a joint initiative of the Social Welfare and Health Departments. As a part of this project, each child has to eat a piece of this cake everyday and remain healthy. Each child will receive a bulk packet of 30 cakes lasting a month.
According to a 2013 United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) position paper, food items such as these are termed therapeutic foods. The paper states that such foods should be provided only for children with ‘severe acute malnutrition.’ It adds that therapeutic foods should in no way serve as a substitute for best nutritional practices and normal food intakes.
At present, the cakes come in from pharmaceutical companies based in Odisha. The State government plans to set up a manufacturing unit at Attappady to cater to the long-term supply in the area.
However, public health experts are shunning this move as a quick fix. They say, “It looks like an easy shortcut even as the authorities continue to allow the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and public distribution system to become non-functional in Attappady. No effort is taken to revive the means for achieving food security. Instead of supplying these cakes, the government must ensure nutritious food involving milk, eggs, pulses, cereals, and millets to the impoverished children.”
In a consensus, health experts suggest ensuring food security in the area to address any nutritional long term issues.