OTHER STATES

Half of Delhi slum kids underweight: CRY

alf of the children below six years of age living in the slums of New Delhi are underweight, according to a worrying study released by NGO Child Rights and You (CRY).

The children do not fare any better with respect to the other indicators of malnutrition with over 45 percent found to have stunted growth and 43 per cent found to be wasting (acutely malnourished).

The study, covering children below six years and part of the ‘Healthy Start’ initiative, noted that children of migrant families dwelling in the most underprivileged sections of the city bore the brunt of urban poverty, especially as the primary caregivers are engaged in informal economic roles.

The study also highlighted a lack of full immunisation among the slum children.

“Nutrition and immunisation are critical in the first six year of a child’s life. Immunisation coverage in the slums in Delhi is much worse than expected. Only one in three children, under the age of three years, has received at least one dose of recommended vaccination,” said Soha Moitra, CRY regional director (north).

The study also exposed gender imbalance in immunisation as only 25 percent of girls received at least one dose, compared to 39 percent of the boys.

The household survey on early childhood was conducted in the slums of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata. All metros showed a downward trend in child nutrition.

Chennai fared the worst with 62.2 percent of its slum children found to be underweight. Kolkata and Mumbai slums had 49 and 41 percent underweight children, according to the study.

Bangalore fared slightly better with 33 percent of its slum children found to be underweight. About 43 percent of children across all the metros were not fully vaccinated.

Ms. Moitra said: “Early childhood, spanning from birth to the age of six years, is the crucial period when the foundations of cognitive, physical and socio-emotional development, language and personality are laid. It is also the phase of maximum vulnerability as deprivation can seriously impact a child’s health and learning potential. Therefore we need to ensure that children in this age group get the best of nutrition, health and learning.”

The study also found that though Anganwadi centres remained one of the most important institutions for ensuring nutrition, health and early education for children below six years, only 47 percent children dwelling in slums were enrolled.

“In Delhi, enrolment in Anganwadi centres in slum children stood at a despondent figure of 47 percent. In Delhi, half the children did not receive Vitamin A and other supplement and about a third had not been de-wormed,” the study pointed out.



The study also exposed gender imbalance in immunisation as only 25 per cent of girls received at least one dose, compared to 39 per cent of the boys



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