572 children need immediate attention

A year after a large number of child deaths were reported from Attappady owing to malnutrition, an official survey held in the past two weeks has found that 572 children below the age of five in the tribal belt still remain malnourished.

As per the findings of the survey conducted by the National Rural Heath Mission (NRHM), the condition of 127 of these 572 children remains extremely serious and the rest are in the high-risk group deserving immediate attention.

This is happening at a time when the Central and State governments are pumping in about Rs.500 crore under different special packages in the region to fight poverty and malnutrition and for employment generation and improving basic living standards.

The report, submitted to the Central and State governments on Friday, was prepared after health workers under the NRHM visiting almost all tribal hamlets in Agaly, Puthur, and Sholayur grama panchayats and continuously monitoring 4,841 children in the below-five age group.

Prime reasons

As per the report, lack of nutritious food and proper health care for tribal women during pregnancy has led to such a devastating situatio

Most tribal women are anaemic. The condition is acute among pregnant women and lactating mothers, says the report.

While a below 10 gram haemoglobin count is termed dangerous for pregnant women, the haemoglobin count of most pregnant Adivasi women in Attappady is seven or eight, point out health workers who have taken part in the survey.

10,000 tribal families

Attappady has 10,000 tribal families belonging to the Irula, Muduga and Kurumba tribes, living in 192 oorus (settlements) scattered in the three panchayats.

The report attributes the reasons for malnutrition to marginalisation and impoverishment of Adivasi communities, lack of food and nutritional security, and poor health-care and supplementary nutrition services.

It was after 54 child death cases, attributed to malnutrition, were reported from Attappady during June last year that the Central government announced a special package of Rs.250 crore for the region.

The State government also set apart a similar amount to improve the conditions there.

P.V. Radhakrishnan, director of the Integrated Tribal Development Project of Attappady, a special project to the tune of Rs.1.29 crore would begin this week to provide nutritious food to all the identified children.

Role for Anganwadis

Nutritious food would be made available through Anganwadis and it would be supplied to children who did not attend Anganwadis at their home. Other health interventions were also in the offing, he said.

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