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Nutrition rehabilitation centres helping in the fight against severe acute malnutrition

Posted:  Thursday, October 01, 2015

Nagpur has been the hub of nutritional activity with valiant efforts put in by State government schemes and organisations to reduce malnutrition. The Maharashtra State Government’s scheme of setting up Nutrition rehabilitation centres (NRC) has shown good results in treating children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM). Among the 4 NRCs in Nagpur circle, approximately 45.3% of children admitted with SAM returned home with a 15% increase in their weight.

Although this scheme was formally launched in 2011, it’s only in the last 2 years that the scheme saw implementation in its desired form. Health records show that a total of 364 children with SAM were admitted to the 4 NRCs. Of them, 148 children were discharged, recording a weight gain of 15% during their hospital stay and after 15 days of discharge.

Of the 4 NRCs, the one located in Gadchiroli district hospital saw the highest number of admissions (129) and also maximum weight gain in children. About 30% of children gained 15% weight while in hospital for 15 days and 26% children gained another 15% at home when they were followed up.

While in the NRC, the children are treated for 15 days in the hospital and administered a specialised formula food since infants with SAM have a weak digestive system. This milk based formula food, called F75 and F100, basically contains powdered puffed rice, milk and coconut oil in a particular proportion. The children are fed this formula initially every 2 hours and gradually phased out to 4 and 8 hourly meals.

Post discharge, the mothers are educated about preparing foods from certain ingredients till the infant completely recovers. Talking about these positive findings, Dr Sanjay Jaiswal, deputy director health services (DDHS) Nagpur said, "15% weight gain at the time of discharge from the NRC ward and during follow up is a positive indication that the intervention in the form of providing formula food to the children during their 15 day hospitalisation to bring their status to near normal is working."

Seeing the success achieved by the NRCs, the state government has announced a plan to roll out one NRC each in Bhandara and Wardha districts. These will be functional from October.

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