'36 pc Delhi kids malnourished'

Govt's nutritional scheme doesn't reach children, says NGO report

About 36 per cent of the children in Delhi are malnourished with a nutritional scheme for kids in the 0-6 age group reaching only 30 per cent of the intended beneficiaries, said a report on Wednesday.

At 38 per cent, the malnutritional rate is higher among girls than boys – 34 per cent. This means that four out of every 10 children in Delhi are malnourished. 

While the coverage of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme is low, its weakest element is monitoring the growth of kids, said the report issued by NGOs – Child Rights and You and Alliance for People’s Rights.

It covered 21 wards and 3,650 children living in slums of west, south-west, north, north-west and north-east areas in Delhi.

“The fast pace of urbanisation poses a significant challenge to children living in urban slums especially newborns and infants whose health depends on the availability of the mother to breastfeed them,” said CRY associate general manager Jaya Singh.

The report highlights the fact that only 35.2 per cent of women breastfeed their children. “The analysis of our report suggests there is an urgent need to strengthen government mechanisms to ensure access to services to curb the growing menace of malnutrition,” said Jaya Singh.

The malnourishment is highest in the north-west district at 51 per cent. About 56 per cent girls there were found to be malnourished.

The 11 Nutritional Rehabilitation Centres (NRC), operational in the national capital, are not being utilised. 

“The children are hardly availing referral services for their immediate care in the NRCs and also the community health workers are unaware of such a facility,” said CRY regional director Soha Moitra.

“We were shocked at the plight of people residing in the slums of Delhi. There is no stress on the targeted figures for nutrition related programmes for pregnant women and children in these areas,” said APR convener Reena Banerjee. 

“There is a need to increase coverage and central funding to schemes in Delhi,” Banerjee added.

The report recommends making ICDS centres functional, sensitising the community and policy prioritisation towards reducing malnutrition.

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