Half the number of children between zero and six years in Shivaji Nagar, Govandi are malnourished, according to a recent report compiled by the state on the number of underweight children in urban slums in the city for June.
The report compiled by Rajmata Jijau Mother and Child Health Mission has also revealed that cases of malnutrition are high in areas such as Bandra, Mahim, Andheri and Mulund.
After Shivaji Nagar with 8.56% malnutrition cases, the highest number of severely underweight children – a term used by World Health Organisation (WHO) as an indicator to gauge malnutrition – were found in Bandra west with 3.42% of cases reported followed by Mahim (3.24%) and Andheri (3.20%).
Only 23.18% children were found underweight in Dharavi as compared to Mulund that reported 39.50% cases of underweight children.
According to doctors, unavailability of food in urban slums is responsible for the high number of cases of malnutrition. “After six months, the child should be both breastfed and given semi-solid food items. Theoretically, the child should eat at least seven times a day but that rarely happens,” said Dr Alka Jadhav, professor of paediatric medicine at Sion Hospital.
Dr Jadhav added, “The mother also works and has multiple children leaving her with no time to feed them on periodic intervals.” Though these figures indicate the growing problem of malnutrition in Mumbai, experts said the situation might be worse.
Sources claimed that many of the 33 Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) projects under the state Women and child Development department fail to report accurate numbers because of lack of facilities and manpower. Each project has multiple anganwadis to provide supplementary nutrition to underweight children "Most of these anganwadis are understaffed and the weighing machines don’t work. ,” said a volunteer requesting anonymity.