Eleven children have died in the past two months in Rajasthan’s Barmer district while being treated for malnutrition under a pilot project at government health centres.
Between December 20, 2015, and February 15 this year, five children — all girls — in Barmer’s Chotan district, four in Balotra and two in Siwana died of severe acute malnutrition (SAM). All of them were being treated under the state government’s Community Based Management of Acute Malnourished Children (CMAM) scheme and the blocks were selected for a trial run of the project.
In the official death report, health department officials confirmed all the deaths were sudden and not due to any disease. HT has a copy of the report.
Chotan’s block chief medical officer Dr Shambhu Ram Gadhveer said the five girls were identified as severely malnourished during a survey for the programme and their parents were advised to take them to a bigger health centre but didn’t.
One of the girls was taken to Sanchore, Rajasthan’s biggest town that neighbours Gujarat, but she still died, he added.
Dr Mahendra Yadav, in-charge of the primary health centre at Dhanau, confirmed two girls under his PHC died of malnourishment.
SAM is the most dangerous form of malnutrition that manifests itself by a very low weight for height or visible severe wasting.
Sources in the medical department said a detailed screening in all eight blocks of the district would be crucial in unearthing the reason behind the deaths.
The CMAM programme was launched on December 21 and ended on February 16, under which the state government screened 240,000 children in 1,489 villages of 41 blocks in 13 “high focus” districts, and identified over 9,000 children. The CMAM approach enables community volunteers to identify and initiate treatment for children with acute malnutrition before they become seriously ill. Caregivers provide treatment for a majority of children with SAM at home, using nutritional supplements.