Door-to-door survey conducted in 26 urban slums

A door-to-door survey by World Vision, a global development and advocacy organisation, in 26 urban slums of Coimbatore has revealed that nearly half the children in these localities suffer from some form of malnutrition.

The findings (see box) were presented during a nutrition training programme organised on Thursday (March 28) by Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), a Central Government-sponsored social welfare scheme, and World Vision for the Coimbatore Corporation Health Officials. The data is used by the organisation for its project to tackle child malnutrition, underway in Coimbatore since January.

The survey also found that only one out of five pregnant women in these urban slums consumed the 100 Iron Folic Acid (IFA) tablets during labour, which was necessary to tackle anaemia.

This is a cause for concern as anaemia among pregnant women could lead to low birth weight and even possible stillbirth, says D. Manimekalai, Project Officer of ICDS, which was working with World Vision to combat child malnutrition. This cycle become self-perpetuating and difficult to break.

“Besides economic factors, other reasons for high malnutrition among children in urban slums are unhygienic preparation of food, which could cause diarrhoea, and low levels of awareness on safe health practices,” she told The Hindu here on Saturday.

The ICDS workers weighed children below three years and all those found to be underweight were given nutritional supplements.

K. Vetriselvan John, Programme Manager (Coimbatore), World Vision, around 900 families with children below five years and pregnant women were covered.

The survey was conducted within the city limits in places such as Ukkadam, Venkidapuram, Balasubramanian Nagar, VH Road and Chairmanraj Nagar.

It found that a huge majority of pregnant women preferred to approach Government health centres. Of the total women surveyed, 85 per cent had registered with primary health centres and rest with private clinics. Institutional delivery was found to be 100 per cent in these slums.

Grana Pu Selvi from Integrated Programming – Child Health Division, World Vision India, who conducted the training programme, said that in India, nearly 75 per cent of children were anaemic, a figure that rises to 87 per cent in the case of pregnant women. Around 55 medical officers, public health nurses and urban health nurses took part in the training programme.

The organisation, which has consultative status with UNESCO and partnerships with UN agencies such as United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation (WHO), was implementing the Kangayam Area Development Programme, for the rural communities in Avinashi and Annur blocks of Coimbatore district for more than a decade.

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