20% kids malnourished in Dharwad dist

20% kids malnourished in Dharwad dist

Malnutrition continues to be a severe challenge for both the people and the district administration of Dharwad. Experts say that ignorance, preference for a male child, poverty, inter and intra variation in the distribution of food are some of the contributing factors for malnutrition.

Despite a slew of measures, including optimal infant and child feeding, ensuring access to quality foods, improved water and sanitation systems, hygienic practices and strengthening and improving access to health services, not much has changed on the ground.

Experts say that the lack of a holistic approach is a major hurdle in the fight against malnutrition. As the majority of the families here practice agriculture, and poverty rules the roost, providing nutritional food to their children continues to be a distant dream.

Child malnutrition in this region stems from malnourished women who have little or no access to nutritional food. In large families here, male members always get preference in all aspects, including good food.

Sure enough, 65% of women in the district suffer from anaemia.

Furthermore, statistics by the Department of Women & Child Welfare show that malnutrition continues to grow in spite of various efforts by the government agencies and civil society organisations.

From June 2019 to August, the department had conducted a survey of children suffering from malnutrition, and nearly 20.05% of children are malnourished in the district.

Of the five taluks in the district, Kalghatgi has the highest rate of malnutrition of 26% while Dharwad taluk has 24%, Hubballi 22%, Navalgund 25%, Hubballi-Dharwad (HDMP limits) 14%.

Evaluating the malnutrition problems in mothers and children, the then Zilla Panchayat CEO C Shikha had embarked upon a new programme of supplying nutritional food kits to the mothers who are enrolled under the MGNREGS. The officials were supplying these kits at construction sites. However, this ambitious programme was stopped after the change of guard at the Zilla Panchayat.

The main reason for malnutrition is flawed financial management in the family according to senior paediatrician Dr Rajan Deshpande, who had taken up an extensive study on malnutrition and had given his report to the state government under the ‘Magu Ne Nagu’ programme.

Mothers are not getting sufficient time to look after their kids and prepare good food. Alcoholism in fathers and preference for junk food in children are leading to financial drain, his report suggested.

Moreover, there are huge families with over three to four children and the food supply to a malnourished child is shared between all.

Lack of education in mother regarding the protein and carbohydrate-rich food is one of the important reasons, he explains.

Repeated education with respect to feeding medicines, child’s food, hygiene is required for mothers to overcome malnutrition, he said.

“The department has also taken up an extensive extension programme under which the Asha workers visit the households and educate mothers on food supplements,” said Srikanth Kulkarni, deputy director, Women & Child Welfare Department.