It's a vicious cycle, say doctors

It's a vicious cycle, say doctors

Malnutrition is a vicious cycle. “It is a complex issue, there are multiple causes, problems within problems,” said Jawhar-based Dr Anita Patil, who works with tribals in Palghar district.

“What is needed is multiple efforts and a multi-pronged strategy to tackle the issue,” Anita, who runs the Siddhivinayak Maternity and Nursing Home at Jawhar, said. Her husband, Dr Bharat Mahale, is a gynecologist at the Patangshah Cottage Hospital at Jawhar, a government-run hospital.

Speaking to DH, the couple said the malnutrition problem is nothing but a vicious cycle. “Girls are married at the ages of 15, 16 and 17. The average age of a mother is 28-39,” Anita said, adding that after the birth of a child, they conceive again within a year. “Many a time, they are in live-in relationships before marriage too,” she said.

“They are underweight, their BMI is low… the mothers and children do not get proper food,” she said. “The fat content in their food is less, their iron intake is less,” she pointed out. “Even the intake of non-vegetarian food is less.”

Besides, they get treated by village ‘godmen’ and do not go to doctors. “Getting to a hospital is not easy… in fact, during the monsoon, when some parts of the village were cut off due to inundation, a mother swam with her child, who was having fever, to get to the town doctor,” she said.

Water and sanitation are major issues too. “Expectant mothers even walk six kilometres to fetch water,” Anita said, pointing out that sanitation is an issue as people defecate in the open.

Another area of concern is addiction. “There are a good number of cases of tobacco addiction and alcoholism among the womenfolk and expectant mothers as well,” a senior government doctor from Palghar district said.

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