Staff Reporter

Infant and child mortality rate higher in the State than the national figures

Lack of political will and non-implementation of policy is the poor state-of-the affairs

Policies for children do not have any provision for childcare services

BHUBANESWAR: Activists and experts working on the child rights issues on Saturday blamed lack of political will, non-translation of policy objectives and poor implementation welfare programmes meant for children for the sad state-of-the-affairs prevailing in Orissa.

At a media consultation jointly organised by Plan India and a network of organisations working to promote early childcare and development in the State here, they urged the State Government and other implementing agencies to work towards child welfare in the State.

The Infant Mortality Rate and Child Mortality in Orissa are higher than the national estimates. One in every 15 children die within the first year of life and one in every 11 children die before reaching the age of 5 years, they said, adding that children from scheduled caste and scheduled tribes were at a greater risk of dying during the first year of life,

Activists said against the target of National Population Policy of achieving 80 per cent deliveries under institutional care, almost two-thirds of deliveries occurred at home. “Two third of under five children are anaemic. As many as 19 out of 30 districts are very high and high prevalent zone of malnutrition,” the child rights groups said.

Lack of facilities

They said as against the sanction of 41,697 Anganwadi Centres (AWCs), 36,399 were operational as on September 2007 while 25,521 AWCs do not have toilet facilities, 12,316 centres are without drinking water facilities.

Similarly, 52 per cent of eligible children are covered under supplementary nutrition programme and only 28 per cent children receive pre-school education, activists said.

Experts alleged that although the State Government claimed that its resettlement and rehabilitation policy was best in the country, surprisingly, this policy did not have any provision for childcare services. Although Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) was extremely important for children under six, there was no law in India relating to this and because of which ECCE had lost focus in the government development agenda, they pointed out.