More than 40 health activists have submitted a memorandum to the chief minister, expressing their concern over the alarming figures on nutritional status of people in Rajasthan.
In the memorandum, members of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan have demanded that the government take immediate action by launching a special drive to detect children suffering from severely acute malnutrition (SAM) and create an electronic data base of identified children and departments, organisations and officials associated with identifying the children.
Individuals identifying more than hundred children suffering from Sam should be given incentives, some of the members said.
Other demands of the activists include setting up of special treatment centres in the vicinity where children are suffering from SAM.
Accredited social health activists (ASHA), anganwari workers or other frontline workers should be trained to organise community-based or home-based treatment of children suffering from SAM, the memorandum said.
A recent study published by Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) said that the Clinical, Anthropometric and Biochemical (CAB) report of the 2014 Census “is most disturbing in the state”.
Chhaya Pachauli of JSA said that according to study, an estimated 17, 81,928 children below the age of six years in the state are severely undernourished.
More than 15% of children suffering from severely acute malnutrition are from the rural areas of the state.
“Earlier the assumption for SAM was that it is in the range of 8% to 9% but almost double the figure is shocking,” said Pachauli.
“The maximum numbers of children who die during neo-natal, infancy and under the age of five years are from this category while children who survive have very low physical and cognitive capacity in later life and gratuitously add to very low skilled adult workforce,” she said.
“This menace should be arrested without any further delay and children suffering from SAM require specialized institution-based treatment in complicated cases and community or home-based for uncomplicated cases.”
She further said that efforts of the government to address this emergency have been inadequate both in quality and numbers at the moment.
“Although, malnutrition treatment centres are being established in medical institutions and compensation to the parents have been worked out, but these centres are far and wide and there is very little awareness about among families that have children suffering from SAM.
“In fact most of the families of children with SAM remain invisible and inaccessible in majority of the instances as they are either residing in remote and inaccessible areas or living nomadic life.”