35% slum children in city underweight: Report | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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35% slum children in city underweight: Report

Only 40% of Mumbai’s slum children receive the benefits of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), leaving out close to a million children under the age of 6 years that are not covered by anganwadis, claims a report released on Wednesday.

mumbai Updated: Jun 30, 2011 01:46 IST
HT Correspondent

Only 40% of Mumbai’s slum children receive the benefits of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), leaving out close to a million children under the age of 6 years that are not covered by anganwadis, claims a report released on Wednesday.

The ICDS, the Central government’s flagship project, was conceived to tackle malnutrition. Anganwadis are spaces created for children to come, have the mid-day meal and collect nutritional supplements. The report said, “There is very little, if any, coordination between the municipal health authorities and ICDS authorities.”

Thirty five per cent of children living in Mumbai’s slum are underweight, said Nourishing Our Future, a 66-page report by Dasra, a strategic philanthropy organisation based in Mumbai.

Gayatri Divecha led the research team of three for over past four months and interviewed over 100 non-profit organisations in New Delhi and Mumbai. In Mumbai, she collected data from over 30 NGOs that cover slums from Colaba to Kandivli and relied on data prepared by the National Family Health Survey, Mumbai's Human Development Report and reports by the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme.

“The framework is in place, but the problem is of implementation,” Dr Chandrakant Pandav from All Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, told Hindustan Times. “We need a social movement and the government has to take immediate as well as long-term steps to deal with malnutrition.”

As per the study, 0-36 months is the “window-of-opportunity” as “foundation for physical and cognitive growth potential is established”. It said most children were left out of outreach schemes because they were targeted for those aged between three and six.

The report found that access to public health care and educational status of mothers had a direct impact on the nutrition of a child. “In India, a child born to a mother with no education is nearly twice as likely to be malnourished as a child born to a mother with 10-11 years of education,” it said. Nearly 72,000 babies are born with low-birth weight, less than 2.5kg, making them susceptible to infections and long-term malnutrition.

The report said training community workers from non-profit organisations and public health care workers would have “the greatest impact on improving children's nutritional status in urban slums”.