42.8% children severely malnourished in Bihar: Health minister
The minister also admitted that about 63.5% of children in the age group of six months to five years were found to be anaemic in the state.
Bihar health minister Mangal Pandey on Tuesday told the Legislative Council that health cards were distributed among 1.22 crore children up to 18 years, offering supplementary medicines to deal with severe malnutrition, suffered by over 42% of the children in the state.
“Around 41% of children suffer from low weight in respect to their age, while 2.40% are obese,” said the minister citing the latest National Family and Health Survey (NHFS-5) data.
Congress MLC Prem Chandra Mishra alleged that the health department’s delivery system had worsened in the state over the last two decades and incidents of malnutrition and anaemia among children and expecting mothers had increased compared to other states.
The minister, however, admitted that about 63.5% of children in the age group of six months to five years were found to be anaemic and said the government has been distributing iron folic acid syrup, to be given to such children twice a week. “Besides, children up to the age of one year are being provided anti-worm drugs regularly. Children suffering from acute anaemia are being treated under the national child health programme,” said Pandey.
To another query from the Congress member, Pandey admitted that the prevalence of anaemia among pregnant women is around 58% and said that Asha workers were counselling the expecting mothers about healthy diet apart from offering medicinal supplements.
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Responding to a short notice question by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) member Rambali Singh, the minister said as many as 6,338 post of doctors were vacant at different hospitals and the requisition for their appointment was sent to the general administration department (GAD). In 2020, the health department had posted 3,186 newly recruited doctors.
“The department has received recommendation for appointment of 5,097 grade A nurses against the vacancy of 9,130 posts. Process has also been launched to fill up the vacancies of auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs) and other technical staff,” he said.