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Malnutrition home truths annoy State

PUTTING A question mark on the State Government?s claim, the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) III shows that the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) III has increased to 60 per cent, six per cent higher than that in 1998-99 when the NHFS II was conducted.

india Updated: Dec 02, 2006 14:37 IST

PUTTING A question mark on the State Government’s claim, the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) III shows that the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) III has increased to 60 per cent, six per cent higher than that in 1998-99 when the NHFS II was conducted.

The State Woman and Child Welfare Department has been proclaiming – based on the results of the anti-malnutrition drive Bal Sanjeevani – that the malnutrition has gone down to below 50 per cent mark.

The State Government is likely to go for an independent and exhaustive survey to refute the NFHS III statistics, considered important development indices related surveys of the Union ministry of public health and family welfare.

The State Government rejected outright the provisional data of NFHS III. The State woman and child welfare department shot off a letter to the Union ministry demanding a review.

Woman and child welfare department principal secretary Prashant Mehta told the Hindustan Times said that if the Union Ministry does not accept the request for a review, the State Government would go for a survey by a neutral agency to substantiate its claim that malnutrition percentage has dropped considerably.

The NFHS III was conducted in the State between April and August this year, the fieldwork done by the Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR), Jaipur.

The data showed that the percentage of underweight children (below three years) is a staggering 60.3. NFHS II showed that the percentage of malnourished children was 53.5.

As per the official data of the State woman and child welfare department, the average malnourishment in children below age of three years is 49.13 per cent and none of the districts has shown malnutrition over 60 per cent mark. The malnutrition percentage in Bhopal district is 37.45 per cent.

Mehta said the NFHS III covered only 2000 households in 21 districts while the State Government’s data base was 80 lakh children covered in Bal Sanjeevani campaign.   

He said the NFHS mostly takes into consideration the districts with high prevalence and also those with high SC and ST population. Mehta said though the scientific criteria of the NFHS III are not being questioned, the fact that the sample size was too small could be the reason for discrepancy.