Left in the lurch, malnourished child dies

Deepa Kurup
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The death of six-year-old Meghala, a malnourished and physically-challenged resident of Devarjeevanahalli here, has thrown light on the wretched state of affairs in one of the lowest socio-economic pockets of the city.

On Wednesday evening, in a quiet ceremony, her family — which includes her visually-impaired mother and 13-year-old sister — cremated her, after she succumbed to a week-long battle with pneumonia. Despite being identified by the Health Department as ‘malnourished’ and her local anganwadi centre as ‘severely underweight’, this six-year-old who weighed around 11 kg, lived completely outside the State’s welfare net — barring the two eggs and twice-a-week milk she was given at her anganwadi.

Murugamma, her 37-year-old mother, says that her daughter’s “whole life has been a battle”. The three live in a 10x10 hutment, with tin roofs and walls and no floor, and every time it rains their house floods. The grieving mother starts talking about how her daughter was “doomed to malnourishment” as she was too weak to breastfeed her, but her sorrow turns to anger as she narrates the rest of her story. “I raised her on...

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