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Study raises alarm on child malnutrition

At least 7.6 per cent children below the age of three years in Jharkhand suffer from acute malnutrition, 25 per cent are moderately underweight and 20.43 per cent severely underweight.

The districts that topped the list of underweight children are Sahebganj (65 per cent), Latehar (62), Khunti (56) and Giridih (50).

The alarming facts came to light in a report released by Campaign for Right to Education (CREJ) at a state-level dissemination workshop at Social Development Centre in the capital on Tuesday.

CREJ, which works with support from Child Rights and You (CRY), had run a campaign on malnutrition across 12 districts in the state from October 2012 to March 2013. An essential component of the campaign was “growth monitoring” of children below the age of three years. The findings and analysis helped CREJ come up with a status report on malnutrition.

The CREJ further used mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) measuring tapes to assess malnutrition. The measurements showed that around 27 per cent children were suffering from moderate malnutrition, 19.7 per cent were at risk of severely acute malnutrition, whereas 7.6 per were already affected.

District-wise assessment on the basis of MUAC tape measurements reflected that Latehar and Sahebganj accounted for maximum number of severely acute malnutrition children with the figures standing at 20 and 12.8 per cent, respectively.

Abhijit Mukherjee, manager of development support, CRY, said the other crucial findings were related to infrastructure issues.

“A considerable number of anganwadi centres complained about defunct weighing machines. This apart, many anganwadi workers don’t have proper knowledge to fill the growth charts,” he said.

The report concludes with three important suggestions — the number of anganwadi centres should be increased in the state, benefits to the rural denizens should be given in proportion to price rise of essential commodities and the anganwadi workers should be properly trained for growth monitoring.

A panel discussion was held after sharing the report with the audience, who had come from the 12 districts where the campaign was carried out.