At least 20 children reportedly died due to malnutrition in the past two months as Karahal and Vijaypur blocks in Sheopur district continue to grapple with malnutrition.
A large number of children between the age group of one and five years in Sesaipura, Kakardha, Moraban, Nimania and adjoining villages suffered skin diseases and other health disorders which are believed to have been caused due to malnourishment.
The situation is particularly grave in the areas which are largely inhabited by Shahariya tribal community.
The health services continue to elude villagers. There is a large-scale unemployment among youth and school education among children seems to exist only for namesake. Recent incidences of children death (at least 13 deaths in Vijaypur block and another seven in Karahal block) have baffled the administration.
Shaken by the deaths, the administration started a series of measures, including an extensive survey, deployment of extra workforce from other places etc.
The Shahariya tribals told HT health-related issues, including occasional deaths, among children were a perennial problem. The superstitious community members sometimes were reluctant to take their underweight or overweight children to the NRC (nutritional rehabilitation centre).
Apart from lack of health services, ignorance of the community is also a reason behind delayed or no treatment.
Sandeep, father of an underweight and malnourished child Amit (1), said he would visit NRC, situated about 20 km away, after Ganesh Puja festival was over.
The Adivasi Basti No-1, where Sandeep resides, in Sesaipura was dotted with colourful decoration amid installation of a Lord Ganesha idol at the middle. Apparently more than five dozen children in the basti comprising about 250 houses looked malnourished.
There were contradictory reports about the regular visit by Aanganwadi and health workers to these villages. Shyamlal Adivasi and Guddi Bai in Sesaipura village alleged the health workers visited their locality just for the sake of it. Health check-up or immunisation camps were hardly organised despite malnutrition severely affecting the children in this area.
The health officials, including BMO (block medical officer) MC Vyas, attributed malnourishment to the lifestyle of the villagers and their superstitious beliefs.
District collector Pannalal Solanki said 20 deaths — 13 in Vijaypur block and 7 in Karahal block — were reported from the district. He, however, said the figure included the death count of even 2014, and was not the cumulative toll of the year 2016 alone.
Solanki said the health related problem among Shahariya community peaked during the monsoon season due to their work habits. The community which solely depended on labour extensive work would be engaged with agriculture activities to increase means of their livelihood, he said.
There are three 20-bed NRCs — one each at Sheopur, Vijaypur and Karahal. These NRCs are now overcrowded with 156 children admitted in Sheopur, 64 in Karahal and 36 in Vijaypur blocks. “We will create an additional capacity to accommodate more children if need arises,” said the collector.
During his visit to the area on Sunday, Congress chief whip and local MP Jyotiraditya Scindia blamed the government for the deaths and demanded that a probe be conducted by an independent agency into alleged corruption, unproductive utilization of resources.
According to national family health survey-4 (NFHS -4), 2015-16 Madhya Pradesh figures on top of the list of infant mortality rate with 51 deaths per 1000 lives (below 1 year) followed by Assam and Bihar with 48 deaths. Besides, in the category of underweight children MP is placed at second spot from top with 42.8% after Bihar which is on the top with 43.9%.
According to National Family Health Survey-4, the state figures on top of the list of infant mortality rate with 51 deaths per 1000 lives (below 1 year) followed by Assam and Bihar with 48 deaths
In the category of underweight children, state placed at second spot from top with 42.8% after Bihar which is on the top with 43.9%
Sheopur collector Pannalal Solanki said 20 deaths reported from the district included the count of 2014 and was not the cumulative toll of the year 2016 alone
156 children admitted in Sheopur rehabilitation centres while 64 in Karahal and 36 in Vijaypur blocks.