Siddaramaiah slams PM Modi on ‘rising malnutrition’ in Gujarat, India

He was speaking after inaugurating the state government's ambitious public health programme, "Anemia Mukta Poushtika Karnataka".

Bengaluru: Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday said he should answer as to why malnutrition is allegedly increasing in his home state of Gujarat and India.

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He said those who praised Gujarat as a model should respond as to why the malnutrition index was increasing in the PM’s home state.

“Those who praised Gujarat as a model should answer why the malnutrition index is increasing in Gujarat and in the country,”

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Siddaramaiah said. “Can this become a model for the whole country?”

‘Anemia Mukta Poushtika Karnataka’ program launched

He was speaking after inaugurating the state government’s ambitious public health programme, “Anemia Mukta Poushtika Karnataka”.

The Chief Minister stressed that without eradicating poverty and illiteracy, everyone will not get good health.

“Our government’s aim is to reach health benefits to everyone’s doorstep,” he said, adding that the government is ready to provide the required funds for it.

The Chief Minister called upon Women and Child Welfare Minister Laxmi Hebbalkar and Health Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao to work together to fulfill the aim of the government and to “keep the children and everyone of our state very healthy”.

Rao said that people do not have clear information about anemia and that they are not concerned about it.

“Anemia starts when hemoglobin decreases. The main reason for this is lack of nutrition. Hemoglobin decreases due to iron deficiency. This reduces our physical and mental development. Due to fatigue, human energy is reduced,” he said.

The Minister said the government is determined to make Karnataka anemia-free. Anemia reduces cognitive ability and affects children’s education. “Over time, we will create awareness and prevent it,” he said.

Provision of necessary treatment and drugs by the Health Department will be ensured to those affected by anemia, Rao said. Besides, free anemia screening will be organised for school children in December, he said.

Screening of children below five years will be carried out by April and action will be taken to provide nutritious food in Anganwadis. “This is why milk and eggs are distributed”.

Anemia serious public health concern in India

According to the state’s Health Department, India is one among the countries with anemia as a serious public health concern even today. Recent data as per National Family Health Survey-5 shows that in Karnataka anemia affects 47.8 per cent of women in the reproductive age group (15-49 years) and 45.7 per cent of pregnant women.

Among children of age 6-59 months, it is 65.5 per cent, among adolescent girls (15-19 years) 49.4 per cent, adolescent boys (15-19 years) 26.5 per cent and men aged (15 to 49 years) 19.6 per cent.

The key objective of the ‘Anemia Muktha Poushtika Karnataka’ programme will be to improve the nutritional status of mothers and children through interventions that take a “Life Cycle” approach. It also aims to improve service delivery by leveraging new technologies and behavioural change strategy.

Under this programme, the state government aims to reach 52 lakh children of age 6-59 months, 58 lakh children between 5-9 years, 127 lakh adolescents of age 10-19 years, 12 lakh pregnant women, 11 lakh lactating mothers and 133 lakh women in reproductive age group (20-49 years excluding pregnant women and lactating mothers) through the planned six pillars of activities which include mass screening for anemia and malnutrition, strengthen tracking and monitoring system, take home ration and diet, and counseling services.

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