The Madhya Pradesh government on Tuesday claimed no child in Gwalior division and Sheopur district had died due to malnutrition in the last three years.
The comment comes barely three months after the state government’s official spokesperson Narottam Mishra assured that a white paper on the status of malnutrition in the state would be prepared.
The National Human Rights Commission had issued a notice to the chief secretary in September following media reports that 116 children had died allegedly due to malnutrition related ailments in Sheopur district in the last five months.
In a written reply to a question on malnutrition deaths in Sheopur district and Gwalior division, state minister for women and child development, Archana Chitnis told the House that there have been “no deaths due to malnutrition during the last three years in Gwalior division and Sheopur district according to the health management information system record that was provided by the health department.”
Former home minister Babulal Gaur had enquired how many children died from the two regions since 2013 and what action had the state government initiate, if any, against the officials.
In her response, Chitnis said there was no question of taking action against any officer as there were no malnutrition deaths.
Earlier, principal secretary (women and child development) and principal secretary (health) had rushed to Sheopur in September following a media outcry on malnutrition deaths. Chitnis had then directed senior officials to submit a detailed report on the ground situation of malnutrition in Sheopur district and about deaths due to malnutrition.
Sheopur district recorded the highest proportion of malnutrition at 55 %, according to National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) released earlier this year. The Saharia tribals, one of the three most primitive tribes of Madhya Pradesh living in villages around Sheopur, are the worst affected.
According to NFHS4, MP stands second in the context of malnourishment after Bihar. Over 42 % of the children under five years in the state have stunted growth and 42.8% are underweight, according to health indicators released earlier this year.
The data also shows that 68.9 % children aged 6-59 months are anaemic.
Replying another question, Chitnis said work on preparing the white preparation was on, but could not provide the date when it would be brought out.