If the State Government's proposal comes to fruition, the over 71,000 severely malnourished children in the State will be given either milk or egg to make up for the imbalance in nutrition.

“We cannot provide egg or milk in the existing budget of Rs. 4 per child in the ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme). Hence, we shall provide the severely malnourished children with additional nutrients under a separate scheme,” said Ramesh Bindurao Zalki, Principal Secretary to Government of Karnataka, Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD).

The proposal was one among many discussed by a committee, headed by DWCD officials, to address malnutrition in the State at a meeting held on Thursday with various Government departments.

Among other proposals the DWCD would look into was the increased allocation per child from the current Rs. 4 per child per day, maintenance of a publicly-available database of malnourished children, involvement of panchayat officials to monitor and track malnutrition among village children.

Transportation problems

The report had listed one of the causes of the sustained malnutrition in the State to the lack of medical monitoring of the children diagnosed to be malnourished. “The coverage of malnourished children is between 30 per cent and 90 per cent in districts,” said S.Selva Kumar, Mission Directorof National Rural Health Mission. One of the major reasons for this was the lack of transportation between the Primary Health Centre and anganwadis, which are often located at a distance from the nearest government doctor.

As a solution to this, Mr. Zalki offered to either hire vehicles on a contract basis or procure a vehicle for every taluk for the purpose of visitation of doctors.

The ‘transportation problem' in malnutrition also encompasses lack of accessibility for those in isolated villages to a hospital. “The anganwadi centres can be used to create awareness about 108 ambulances, which can be used to take the malnourished child during a complication to the nearest hospital,” said Mr. Zalki.

During the meeting, representatives of the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj department assured the DWCD that they would rectify the disturbing statistics which reveals that one-third of the anganwadi centres do not have toilets or water supply, or that only 2,407 centres out of the around 61,000 anganwadis do not have electricity.

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