Malnutrition: Health camps expose City's underbelly as cases come to fore
Being children is no joyful experience in DJ Halli. Most children here are malnourished and suffer from one or the other disease. But the bigger tragedy is that the poverty-stricken families of these children cannot afford to get them treated.
Their parents fear losing wages if they skip work and take their wards to hospitals.
A health check-up conducted on August 20, 21 and 24 by doctors from BBMP’s referral hospitals showed that out of 108 children from DJ Halli, 58 were afflicted with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and a few children also had other disabilities.
However, out of them only six children are currently taking referral treatment at Bowring Hospital. Two have been discharged in the last two days. All of them are aged below six years. Doctors had suggested the parents of Ayesha, 4, who is disabled, to take her to the Association of People with Disability (APD), so that calipers can be fitted to her leg. Unfortunately, that was not to be.
Ayesha’s mother Farhana said, “My eldest child too is suffering from the same disability and I have a younger child also to look after. My husband, a daily wage worker, had already taken the day off for the health camp. Taking her for treatment means he would have to take more leaves. If I stay in hospital with Ayesha, who will take care of my other two children?”
Low haemoglobin level
Looking after one-and-half-year-old Daniel at the Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) in Bowring Hospital is her grandmother Palaniamma. Doctors at the health camp had told the boy’s parents that he had very low haemoglobin level and needed blood transfusion immediately.
She said: “We come from a very poor background and Daniel’s mother died four months ago. His father is the only bread earner. So, I am taking care of my grandson.”
The Palike had also conducted a health check-up of 2.8 lakh children in slums and the nearby anganwadi centres.
The doctors found that 3,418 were malnourished and were given protein powder, vitamin supplements and syrup. A few were referred to the anganwadi PHC and Bowring Hospital.
“Most parents from DJ Halli are unaware about things like food quality, nutrition value and what food to give their children,” said a official from BBMP Health department.
Bowring Hospital authorities said a total of 16 malnourished children were admitted in the last one week. They hail from DJ Halli, Marathahalli, Vibhutipura, KR Puram and other places.
‘No overnight solution’
Health Minister U T Khader told Deccan Herald that he had received a memorandum including recommendations such as setting up of an NRC at DJ Halli and improving facilities at PHCs there.
“It is not possible to eradicate malnutrition or to set up NRC overnight. There are three NRCs in the City (Vani Vilas Hospital, Bowring Hospital and Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health) which cater to malnutrition problems. People should access facilities there,” he said.
NGOs and staff from the Department of Women and Child Development should coordinate and keep tabs on affected children, he added.