Thursday, 8 May 2014
Chandni is 3, weighs just 3.7kg
Shreya Roy Chowdhury,TNN May 8, 2014, 02.43 AM IST
NEW DELHI: Chandni is over three but isn't much bigger than a new-born. When she was weighed for a survey in end-2013, she was two-years, eleven months old and her weight was 3.7kgs. It should have been 10.7kgs as per the World Health Organization's standards. An east Delhi NGO, conducting a survey to map malnutrition in children under six in Sunder Nagri, found that one in every five kids who had their heights and weights measured was malnourished and one in nine had "severe acute malnourishment." Of these, six children were in such a condition that NGO workers took them to a hospital. Chandni is one of them.
The survey, conducted by Pardarshita, covers 580 children belonging to a single block, E-57, of Sunder Nagri. "Many of the children found to be malnourished are enrolled with aanganwadis," says Pardarshita co-founder Rajiv Kumar, "Their growth should have been monitored and they should have got some nutrition from there." Aanganwadis are responsible for the delivery of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS)-the only one reaching out to children under six years of age. Chandni's father, Pramod, a security guard, says none of his five children have ever been weighed at the aanganwadi they go to and they "sometimes get some khichdi." He is keen on getting a disability certificate for Chandni who can't sit up. Chandni's twin Roshni is faring slightly better and has already been sent home. "We were told she's weak when she was born. But private doctors couldn't help her," says Pramod.
On Tuesday, Kumar wanted the six children at GTB Hospital to be moved to a nutrition rehabilitation centre' at Bada Hindu Rao Hospital. However, the parents flatly refused. Their kids' being in hospital means foregoing a day's wages for some and being thin and small for their age is clearly not seen as a crisis meriting hospital stay. "Her father is a rickshaw-puller and he can't be here. I can't be here all day either as this is affecting my other daughter's studies," says Geeta, whose daughter Jyoti is at the hospital. Pramod has already sent his other daughter, Roshni, home and is keen on getting a disability certificate for Chandni who can't sit up.
The poor functioning of aanganwadis, however, can't be held entirely responsible and one should be cautious about dismissing ICDS as ineffective. Currently, it is the only system reaching out to children of that age.
"To combat malnutrition you need, apart from food, good drinking water, sanitation and care. The growth monitoring ICDS does is just one in a gamut of things," observes Sudeshna Sengupta of Mobile Creches, "Is the family food secure? Is the food basket diverse enough? How many times is the child fed?" The parents of the children in hospital are just about making do. Pramod makes Rs 6,000 per month of which Rs 2,000 goes toward rent.
He has five children.