Tribal lifestyle in rural areas of West Singhbhum leads to malnourished children, says a study of Malnutrition Treatment Centre (MTC). Early as well as multiple marriages besides drinking habits make mothers anaemic, eventually resulting in malnourished children.
According to Rapid Survey on Children (RSOC) in 2015 by Unicef and Union ministry of women and child development, 47 out of every 100 malnourished child (below 5 years were not undergoing proper development, whereas national average is 28.7%.
Malnutrition induced child mortality was recorded around 45% whereas 43% of adolescent girl children suffer from malnutrition of which 22 % get married before the age of 18.
MTC officials say, girls get married by 16 and deliver baby before the legal age of marriage, 18. These mothers are deprived of nutrition as their husbands are mostly unemployed and unable to provide two meals a day. Hence, mothers take to handia (rice beer), affecting the feeding habits of kids, they said.
More than 1000 malnourished children were given treatment at four Malnutrition Treatment Centres (MTCs) in West Singhbhum district in 2016-2017. In a recent medical camp at four remote villages of Saranda forest, altogether 52 out of 315 children, were identified as malnourished children.
Nodal officer of MTC in West Singhbhum, Dr Jagannath Hembrom said children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) have higher risk of dying than wellnourished children. The problem is alarming in Manjhgaon, Manoharpur and Jagannathpur, he added. He said, tribal life-style has to change to control malnutrition among children.
“Records say, around 600 malnourished children were admitted at Chaibasa MTC during 2016-2017 so far. The government provides around Rs 16 lakh for such children at the MTCs at Chaibasa every year. We are planning to make three blocks, including Khuntpani, Chaibasa and Tantnagar free from malnourished children soon”, Hembrom said.
Former member of West Singhbhum Zila Parishad from Goilkera, Jyoti Meral said that children could be protected from malnutrition by controlling early marriages, preventing multiple marriages, promoting less number of children within a family, prohibiting drinking habit among mothers and spreading literacy among the rural tribal population.