A Bombay High Court appointed committee on Saturday said that two infants from Govandi died of malnutrition last week. The two children, aged one month and seven months, weighed no more than their weight at birth.
Both children - Ila Asgar Mirza, aged one month 15 days, and Mahreen Rafaqatulah, seven months, had died after contracting pneumonia and fever. However, according to the state's child welfare department, malnutrition was not the cause of death.
In 2010, following a series of HT reports on malnutrition deaths in Govandi, non-governmental organisation, Movement of Peace and Justice (MPJ), had moved the Bombay High Court which appointed a committee to look into the matter.
On November 2, the committee, comprising of Leni Chaudhari, from Jan Arogya Abhiyaan, Sumit Wajale from Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao, and Anees Mohammed from MPJ, visited Govandi to probe the two deaths. "Owing to sustained deprivation these children did not have enough immunity to ward off diseases. These children were never even referred to any Nutritional Rehabilitation Centre in any hospital. They were deprived of breast milk because their mothers were malnourished," said Mohammed.
The report, which is yet to be submitted to the HC, states that while Ila weighed 2.5 kgs at birth, by the time she died on November 1, her weight had fallen to 2.4 kgs. Suffering from loose motions, she'd been vomitting for ten days before her death.
She was taken to Rajawadi Hospital, where she was prescribed nutritional supplements and oral rehydration therapy (ORS) for electrolyte deficiency. Her postmortem report states that she died of pneumonia.
The other child- Mahreen did not gain any weight after birth. She had fever for two weeks before her death and was hospitalised in Rajawadi Hospital for three days before she died on October 31. "The children did not die of malnutrition. They lived on a dumping ground and caught the infection," said an ICDS officer requesting anonymity.