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NGOs seek more funds for child care

A report on children in Delhi slums suggests that policy changes and a higher budgetary allocation are needed for child welfare in the country, reports Jaya Shroff Bhalla.

delhi Updated: Feb 24, 2009 00:14 IST
Jaya Shroff Bhalla

A report on children in Delhi slums suggests that policy changes and a higher budgetary allocation are needed for child welfare in the country.

The report is based on a survey conducted by the Forum for Crèche and Childcare Services, a conglomeration of NGOs advocating the rights of children under six.

According to the survey findings, a large number of children here suffer from nutritional anemia. The report also says that institutionalised delivery consists of only 60.7 per cent in Delhi, and despite a fairly good infrastructural support available in the Capital, post-delivery health support is a bare 74 per cent.

Only 34 per cent of the children here get immunisation coverage with most of them facing a constant risk of being infected by diseases like polio and hepatitis. The Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) is also weak, the report reveals, with an outreach of 35 per cent children and several quality and implementation issues.

“There is very little money being spent on children and their needs in the country. Recent exercises in child budgeting have shown an increasing share of outlays for child specific schemes from 2.20 per cent of the Union budget in 2003-04 to 5.35 per cent in 2008-09, which is good but certainly not enough,” said Razia Ismail, veteran journalist and activist.

Of the child budget, the largest allocation is for education (72 per cent in 2008), followed by Early Childhood Care and Development (17 per cent). Attention to health care is also limited.

“Despite the under funding of education and Early Childhood care and Development sectors, the increases in outlays are steps in the right direction. But low prioritisation of child protection, which is mere one per cent of the 2008 child budget, indicates that the stress laid on it in the Common Minimum Programme is yet to find reflection in financial allocations,” said Ismail.