Khichdi, a hearty meal served to children in government-run schools across the state, is set to become more nutritious with the health commission in Himachal Pradesh accentuating upon fortifying the mid-day meal.
The health commission constituted by the government to review the health care services has stressed on adding micro-nutrients in the mid-day meal being served to the children schools across the state.
The commission headed by former secretary, department of biotechnology, Union ministry of science and technology, Maharaj Kishan Bhan had recently come to the state capital assess the health services. It comprises leading doctors from north India.
"We should fortify mid-day meal being served in the schools," additional chief secretary (health) Vineet Chaudhary told Hindustan Times. Malnutrition may not be a problem in the state but micro-nutrients could certainly help in better growth of the children, he added.
The state health department had also suggested and deliberated on the issue with the Indian Council for Medical Research. It was in 2004 that the state government had introduced cooked mid-day meal in government and government-aided primary schools.
In the state, mid-day meal is being provided in all primary schools benefiting 6.25 lakh students of primary and upper primary classes.
The health department has suggested the food and civil supplies department to explore options for providing the pre-mixed micro-nutrients in the ration being provided to the schools.
As of now, the schools are providing khichdi in the schools, while cooked dal and rice are optional in many educational institutions.
The health experts felt that khichdi was not meeting the nutritional requirement of the children, as stunted growth has been observed in children, particularly in the government-run anganwaris (crèches).
Under the mid-day meal scheme, the government has also kept trained helpers in the school who get an honorarium of rs 1,000 per month. Apart from this a helpline has been state up for redressal of complaints pertaining to food.
Concerned with reports over cancer patients being deprived of funds under the Mukh Mantri Punjab Cancer Rahaat Kosh Scheme, the state government has sought a report from all 22 districts in Punjab about the status of last 100 disease-hit people enrolled under the plan in the respective districts.
In an email written to all deputy commissioners and civil surgeons, the chief secretary has asked the officials to send a report within one month.
Along with the email, sample forms to be filled during the verification survey have been sent to the officials.
The questions include details such as the names of patient, type of cancer, name of hospital from where he or she is undergoing treatment, how much patient has paid to the hospital from his pocket etc.
Further, they will also be asked as whether they are satisfied with the scheme under which they are getting financial grant.
Nawanshahr civil surgeon Dharam Pal said, “We have the contact numbers of last 100 cancer patients in our database. We have already started contacting them. It will be a verification survey in which feedback of patients will be sought and reports will be sent within one month.”
Surinder Pal, a resident of Hakumatpur village in Hoshaipur whose five-year-old daughter Hina is in undergoing treatment at PGI, Chandigarh, said, “`1.5 lakh is very small amount for treatment of such a disease. We got this amount last year.
The financial help given by people, NGOs has helped us getting our daughter treated.”
He said it has become difficult for him to arrange the money since he is a daily wager and has to look after his entire family as well.
Gurmail Kaur, a patient of breast cancer from Mari Mustafa village in Moga district, said, “I got only `3,700 from the state government under the Mukh Mantri Punjab Cancer Rahaat Kosh Scheme despite a grant of `1.07 lakh was sanctioned.”
Dr Gurtej Singh, a social worker in Moga, said that there are hundreds of patients in his village who have applied for the grant under scheme but have yet to get any financial aid.
He said even as the number of cancer patients is rising in Punjab by the day, the state government and the Centre are not taking any effort for treatment of patients.
Singh said four of his family members died of the deadly disease and the government has failed to provide any help.
Singh demanded that the government should increase the financial aid under the scheme.