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Times of India
02 August 2011
By, Sandeep Ashar
Mumbai, India

Soon, Maharashtra will produce a white paper on reasons for child deaths due to malnutrition, the minister for women and child development department Varsha Gaikwad announced during the zero hour in the legislative council on Friday after the opposition pressed for a concrete plan of action to tackle malnutrition deaths.

The government agreed there have been at least 5,845 deaths among children up to six years in the last one year. Suresh Shetty, the minister for public health, argued that all deaths could not be due to malnutrition. He said that there are 45 causes of deaths ranging from being underweight to suffering from pneumonia. Shetty pointed out that the number of children’s deaths in the past five years has dropped owing to government measures. He said that while there were 8,703 children’s deaths in 2006-07, there were only 6,700 deaths in 2008-09. The women and child welfare department is the nodal agency for malnutrition related measures and has recently launched ten schemes to curb the menace.

Shetty also said that the maternal mortality rate in the state has come down from 137 to 103. He said that government was now taking steps to bring the infant mortality rate down. Shetty also announced a new scheme, the Janani Shishu Yojana, in which pregnant mother would get free transport to medical centers, free medication and testing. The facility will be offered for a month after the birth of the child. He said that an allocation of Rs 19.7 crore had been allocated for the scheme.

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