More than 33 lakh children suffering from malnutrition: RTI reply

New Delhi: As per the official statistics released recently, more than 33 lakh children are suffering from malnutrition among them more than 27.7 lakhs are suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM). According to Census 2011, there are over 46 crore children in the country.

Maharashtra, Bihar and Gujarat topped the list of those children who are suffering from severe acute malnutrition as per the information released by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in response to an RTI query.

The Women and Child Development Ministry estimates that there are 17 lakhs severely acute malnourished children (SAM) and 15 lakhs moderately acute malnourished (MAM) children as of October 14, 2021. This situation has increased due to the corona pandemic.

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The total 33.23 lakhs of malnutrition children registered in 34 states and union territories, the ministry said in reply to an RTI query by PTI. The numbers were registered on the Poshan tracker app developed last year as a governance tool for real time monitoring of nutritional outcomes.

A 91% rise in the number of SAM children has been seen between November 2020 and October 14, 2021 an increase from 9.27 lakh to 17.76 lakh now.

According to the RTI reply relying on the Poshan tracker, Maharashtra registered the highest number of malnourished children at 6.16 lakhs with 1.57 lakhs MAM children and 4.58 lakhs SAM children. Second in the list is Bihar with 4.75 lakh malnourished children, 3.23 lakhs MAM children and 1.52 SAM children.

Gujarat registered the third highest number of such children at 3.20 lakh with 1.55 lakh MAM children and 1,65,364 1.65 lakh SAM children.

The Child Rights and You (CRY) CEO Puja Marwa said the coronavirus pandemic has adversely affected all socio-economic indicators and threatens to waste away the progress made during the last decade.

The Integrated Child Development Scheme and midday meals in schools have become irregular during the prolonged lockdown of the schools. This has severely impacted the children living in extreme poverty as they have been largely relying on these meals”, Marwa informed the PTI.

Among the other states Andhra Pradesh registered 2.67 lakh malnourished children and Karnataka registered 2.49 lakh such cases.

UP registered 1.86 lakh malnourished children while Tamil Nadu recorded 1.78 lakh children. Assam has 1.76 lakh children while Telangana has 1.52 lakh children. The total number of malnutrition children in Delhi is 1.17.

Anupam Sibal, group medical director and senior paediatrician, Apollo Hospitals Group said, “It is very important to recognise malnutrition early and to adopt appropriate therapy to prevent worsening of malnutrition conditions among the affected children. These children have poor immunity and a greater risk of infections. They have less energy and perform less than their natural potential in school. The prevention of malnutrition starts from feeding nutritious food to pregnant and lactating ladies, exclusive breastfeeding for six months, focusing on appropriate weaning and balanced nutrition in the first few years of the children’s lives,” Mr Sibal told PTI.

India has slipped to 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI)2021 of 116 countries from its 94th position in 2020 and is behind its neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

To deal with the problem of malnutrition in the country, the Centre government launched the Poshan Abhiyan programme in 2018 to reduce low birth weight, stunting and undernutrition and anaemia among children, adolescent girls and women.

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