Just over four years old, Surya Mariappa from Santacruz weighs only six kilos – half the weight of healthy children his age. Admitted to civic-run Sion hospital, the child lost his eyesight after a long period of near starvation.
His doctors have classified Surya’s condition as Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), a World Health Organisation classification which India uses.
“Surya’s case is a wake-up call for Mumbai about the high prevalence of severe urban malnutrition,” said Dr Alka Jadhav, professor of pediatric medicine at Sion hospital.
Surya was brought to the hospital on October 4 by his aunt, Veni, who looks after him since his parents died. They live in a slum in Santacruz.
The child, whose feet are swollen because of malnutrition, was brought in with high fever. A bandage is wrapped around his vision-less eyes, the corneas of which were damaged because of acute Vitamin A deficiency because of malnourishment. He will need a corneal transplant to regain vision.