Activate MIS-based tracking, Maharashtra Government told

Soon children under six and mothers in Maharashtra’s Melghat region, which is facing malnutrition will be tracked using management information system (MIS) following a directive from the Bombay High Court in August.

“Steps should be taken by the State Government under the auspices of the Collector, Amravati, to activate the MIS-based tracking of children and mothers,” the Court said in its order in an ongoing case on malnutrition.

The Court directed that implementation begin on September 17, 2012. The Government should formulate short and long-term plans to tackle malnutrition, and devise a suitable plan setting out targets to be achieved expeditiously, the Court said.

The Melghat region, part of Vidarbha comprises Dharni and Chikhaldhara tehsils. On average, 400-500 children below six die every year in Melghat of various causes linked to malnutrition.

On an application made by petitioner Purnima Upadhyay on July 20, the Court noted that there was no information on any government website on the status of undernourished children and on infant and child mortality.

Statistics submitted to the Court show that as of June 2012 the number of children in the Moderately Acute Malnutrition (MAM) and Severely Acute Malnutrition (SAM) categories were 3,431 and 561, while children who are Moderately Under Weight (MUW) and Severely Under Weight (SUW) numbered 10,047 and 3,798.

Between April and June 2012 there were 81 child deaths (35 in Chikhaldhara and 46 in Dharni), 42 stillbirths and four cases of maternal mortality. Ms Upadhyay submitted that the figures for malnourished children seemed to remain at 14, 000 over the last two years and the number of SAM and MAM children did not show any remarkable decline.

The Court had to intervene also in providing emergency services in the Melghat region. The 22 emergency flying squads there had no vehicles this year until it ordered quick action in mid August. Even after that, Ms Upadhyay told The Hindu on Saturday, some primary health centres hired vehicles for a month and for the rest tenders had been invited.

The flying squads operate from May to October every year to cater to remote villages. This year, she said, over 100 villages were cut off due to heavy rain and there was no help for them in any form.

Since May the squads did not have vehicles, as a result of which the villagers in remote areas were placed at high risk especially in a medical emergency, the Court said.

The Court was informed that earlier tenders had been invited from private bidders for supply of vehicles at Rs.14,000 per vehicle per month. But no bids were available at that rate. The Collector chaired a meeting in June of the Navsanjivani Yojna and a decision was taken to invite fresh tenders. The government counsel told the Court that fresh tenders were invited, and 10 days allowed for submission of bids.