Dilemma of Health and Ensuring Nutrition – A look in the past!

Dilemma of Health and Ensuring Nutrition – A look in the past!

The phasing out of MDGs with SDGs ushers in new deadline of hope i.e. 2030. But whether the experience of MDGs and state delivery of services reflect some scope of improvement for the adopted 17 goals i.e. Sustainable Development Goals. Relying on the report of the supreme audit institution in India i.e. Comptroller and Auditor General of India which puts a glaring picture of malnourishment and low birth weight noticed during the audit from 2007-08 to 2010-11. It hopefully should be a primary focus to remove anomalies in already stressed region.

The state average of low birth weight over 4 years hovered around 15-19% whereas Bardhaman (Raniganj Coalfield fame) closely followed the state average and registered low birth weight percentage of 15-18%. Statistically there is improvement in percentage points from 2007-08 to 2010-11 but the absolute numbers keep increasing (relative to more new borns weighed). The increase in price of foodgrains should not become a deterrent to ensure adequate nutritional intake for the children and pregnant mothers. It is an irony that the economy dependent on natural resources based industry (almost 30-35% of District Domestic Product of Bardhaman contributed by mining and industry) has had such instance which came to the notice during CAG audit.

It must be noticed that Bardhaman has the highest number of children weighed (new borns) and the underweight children too are the highest in Barddhaman among other districts covered by the audit (Paschim Medinipur, Jalpaiguri, South 24 Parganas and Malda). The CAG compared calorific norms for supplementary nutrition and actual calories provided – it noticed that there was deviation of 20% in calorie provision for children aged 6 months to 6 years; 38% shortfall in calorie provision for severly malnourished children and 12% shortfall in calorie delivery for pregnant women and lactating mothers.

Find below stark observations by CAG;

Thus, non-supply of supplementary nutrition for stipulated number of days coupled with reduction in quantum of food stuff led to reduction in stipulated level of nutritional value. The purpose of bringing about improvement in the nutritional and health status of children and pregnant women was compromised to that extent. The same is vindicated by the scenario of malnutrition among the targeted groups:

  • As of March 2012, out of 5674883 children weighed, 1450454 (26 per cent) were below normal weight, while 102847 children (two per cent) were malnourished.
  • Of 1906787 pregnant women registered during 2010-11, 569046 (30 per cent) were anaemic (Haemoglobin<1113).
  • Further, during the period 2007-11, birth weight of 15 to 19 per cent new born babies in the state was less than 2.5 kg. In respect of test-checked districts, percentage of such babies varied between six and 25 per cent.

Many programmes under different heads also represent one or the other SDGs, can there be a measurable index to improve upon from the past.

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