State, BMC officials converge on Govandi slum after child deaths | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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State, BMC officials converge on Govandi slum after child deaths

The death of seven-month-old Asif Shaikh, on Tuesday morning in Rafiq Nagar slum in Govandi, has set in motion a series of initiatives from the civic body and a central government food security scheme to tackle malnutrition in the slum.

mumbai Updated: Dec 16, 2010 02:32 IST
Apeksha Vora

The death of seven-month-old Asif Shaikh, on Tuesday morning in Rafiq Nagar slum in Govandi, has set in motion a series of initiatives from the civic body and a central government food security scheme to tackle malnutrition in the slum.

On Wednesday, about 30 civic health workers and employees of the central government’s Integrated Child Development Scheme arrived at the slum to check on the weights and health of its children.

“We split up into ten groups to cover the slum and ensure that all children who need medical treatment are referred to doctors and given the required care,” said the officer in charge of the area for the central government scheme, who requested anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Asif was the third malnourished child from the slum to succumb to a cold and fever this month. On Monday, Hindustan Times had reported the deaths of two-and-a-half Khatij Afzal and 15-month-old Sahil Salman in the past ten days.

Social workers in the slum have records that indicate that all three children were malnourished and were therefore too weak to recover from their infections.

While neither the central government scheme nor the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s health department is willing to acknowledge that these deaths may have been avoided had their delivery of basic services to the slum been better, both bodies are mobilising staff and resources. The civic body’s health department also conceded that the slum needed a public dispensary and the officer intended to put up a proposal for one to be set up in Rafiq Nagar.

“While sanctioning a dispensary could take time, in the short run, we will try to create an out-patient department in the health posts in the area to treat the children,” said Dr Neelam Kadam, health officer at BMC.

A truck carrying rations from the central government scheme for children under the age of six also drove into the Rafiq Nagar on Wednesday.

These rations include ready-to-make packets of upma and sheera, which workers of the central government scheme are supposed to distribute to targeted groups, comprising children and pregnant or lactating women.

To ensure the rations go only to these target groups, the distributors have been instructed to keep thorough records of beneficiaries, something that wasn’t done earlier, said the scheme’s officer.

Asif was a healthy 3kg baby at birth but developed a condition that made him pass blood with his stools, he became very weak.

According to social workers in the slum, he weighed six kilograms when he died, which meant he was malnourished by the World Health Organization’s yardstick.