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Madhya Pradesh prepares to treat 1 lakh malnourished children

Image for representation purpose only.   | Photo Credit: K.K. Mustafah

The Madhya Pradesh government is preparing to deal with a likely surge in children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), by chalking out a strategy to cater to 1 lakh such children by emphasising on community-led efforts in order to overcome shortcomings in health infrastructure, a senior government official said.

“Going by the prediction models, in the most optimistic scenario the State should be gearing to create supportive mechanisms for over 1 lakh SAM cases as just before the lockdown the number of SAM cases was hovering around 81,000. We have already identified 77,681 SAM children and 467 MAM (moderate acute malnutrition) children after our monitoring activities resumed once the lock down lifted,” wrote Swati Meena Nayak, Director, Women and Child Development for M.P., in an e-mail interview. She added that the government expects to identify the remaining approximately 22,000 children by the end of this month.

According to a Lancet article published on July 27, “there could be a 14.3% increase in the prevalence of moderate or severe wasting among children younger than five years due to COVID-19-related losses”. It also forecasts a rise in child mortality by up to 10,000 deaths per month globally.

“The State has a capacity of treating nearly 3,500 children through facility based management. With COVID-19 protocols in place, we were at 50% of operational capacity and were staring at a daunting task,” explains the official.

The government then decided to launch a strategy focused on nutritional care and rehabilitation of vulnerable children on the basis of a pilot project run by UNICEF in a block in Hoshangabad district. This would involved identifying children suffering from anemia, low birth weight, deprivation of essential nutrients and micronutrients. The scheme is being implemented under a programme titled “Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition” (IMAM).

The community management treatment includes identification of vulnerable children, community supervised feeding and monitoring of the health status, and forming mothers’ groups as well as those of adolescent girls to assist frontline workers in spreading awareness within the community.

Incentives are also planned for various stakeholders such as village and health sanitation committees, SHGs, frontline workers, and families of SAM children.

Ms. Nayak said the government has also ensured there are third-party evaluations of resumption of anganwadi schemes by credible entities like IFPRI, UNICEF, National Institution of Nutrition, among others and also intends to present an impact assessment report of its various measures by the end of March 2021.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 2:54:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/madhya-pradesh-prepares-to-treat-1-lakh-malnourished-children/article33264979.ece

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