Session to improve nutrition in Bihar, which has highest child mortality rate
The Bihar child rights protection commission is busy explaining the nutritional values of fruits, vegetables and rice starch to mothers and children during the ongoing ‘Poshan Maah’, or the month of nutrition in a state where the neonatal mortality rate is the highest in the country at 34.5, as per a Central government report.
The commission held an interactive session a couple of days ago with a large number of women and children gathered in Patna district’s Anganwadi centres, explaining how to improve nutrition levels and physical fitness of children.
As per the National Family and Health Survey (NFHS)-5 released in 2020, compared to Bihar’s neonatal mortality rate of 34.5, it was just 3.4 in Kerala. Even in not so developed states such as West Bengal, it stood at 15.5, less than half of Bihar’s figure. The neonatal rate is the number of newborns dying within 28- days per 1,000 births in an assessment year.
Even the infant mortality rate-- the number of infants dying within one year of birth per 1,000 deliveries in a given year-- is at 46.8 in Bihar, the highest in the country. In comparison, Kerala’s infant mortality rate is 4.4, West Bengal has 22 and Gujarat has 31.8, as per NFHS-5.
Bihar also has the embarrassing distinction of being the state with the highest mortality rate of children under five years of age at 56.4, compared to Kerala’s 5.2, Bengal’s 25.4, and Gujarat’s 37.6. As per the report, the problem is almost as severe in urban areas of the state with a 50 mortality rate compared to 57.4 in rural areas.
“There’s an urgent need to improve the physical health of children. To get the desired results, we need to make their mothers aware about nutrition and proper diet. We explained to the women how important it is to make children eat nutritional food like fruits and vegetables,” Pramila Kumari, the Child Rights Protection Commission chairperson, said.
Women were also told about inexpensive and easily available fruits and other high nutrition value food options. “They need not worry about costly fruits. Even the rice starch, which is easily available, has a high nutrition level and can be used for physical fitness,” she said.
Besides, women were also explained the importance of breastfeeding and bottle-free rearing of kids.