Wealthy but not Healthy Anaemia up in Women, Kids in Gujarat
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18 June 2010
By Kapil Dave & Priya Adhyaru-Majithia
The problem of food scarcity may have been controlled to a great extent but malnutrition among children, and anaemia among both women and children, persist.
According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) statistics of 2005–06, 45% of the Gujarat’s children under the age of five are underweight.
And, surprisingly, of the total number of undernourished children in the state, the percentage of urban children is higher (56%) than that of rural children (48%).
In fact, the state is ranked third –next only to Madhya Pradesh and Bihar –among states with the highest percentage of underweight children aged five or less.
These are the findings of the department of women and child development, Gujarat, which recently submitted a report on the health of women and children in the state.
The report is based on National Family Health Survey statistics and data gathered from the state government’s own monthly progress reports (MPR) on the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in Gujarat.
The report also reveals that, despite the 417 crore that the Central and state government spent on nutrition in Gujarat in 2009–10, the number of malnourished children and women in the state has actually increased over the years.
Nearly one–third of the state’s women, between the age of 15 and 49, are anaemic. Anaemia among women has increased from 46% in 1998–99 to 55% in 2005–06. Among children aged 6 to 35 months, it has increased from 75% in 1998–99 to 80% in 2005–06.
A district–wise survey conducted in November 2009 by the department of women and child development shows that in 19 out of the state’s 26 districts, more than 50% of the children under 6 years of age, are ill–nourished.
The 2009 survey shows that in 10 districts –Dangs, Bharuch, Narmada, Vadodara, Panchmahal, Dahod, Gandhinagar, Sabarkantha, Patan and Surendranagar –more than 60% of the children (under six) are underweight. The situation is only marginally better in nine other districts –Valsad, Navsari, Surat, Bhavnagar, Anand, Kheda, Ahmedabad, Mehsana and Banaskantha –where 50% to 60% of the children are undernourished.
In 5 of the remaining 7 districts namely, Rajkot, Kutch, Jamnagar, Porabandar and Amreli, 40% to 50% of the children are underweight. Only in one district, Junagadh, do undernourished kids comprise less than 40% of the children’s population.
Medical experts say that the actual situation is far worse than indicated by the report. Dr Alpesh Gandhi, chairperson, practical obstetric committee, Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India, Gujarat chapter, said that the report’s figures are conservative.