Number of children getting Vitamin A supplement drops by 4% in Rajasthan
The Vitamin A supplementation among the state children has taken a dip against the state government’s claim of doing good work in the area. The coverage of Vitamin A supplement dipped by 4% to 82% in the May-June round from 86% registered during the same period last year, according to the data provided by the integrated child development services (ICDS) department.
Prior to that, in 2015, the Vitamin A supplement coverage in the May-June round was 85% in Rajasthan.
However, the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4 data shows that only 39.6% children received Vitamin A supplement during 2015-16, which is well below the coverage claimed by the ICDS department.
Even the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in its report dated March 31, 2016, observed that 5.76% to 10.96% children were not given first dose of Vitamin A, 38.67% to 51.58% children were not given the second dose and 60.40% to 67.14% children were not given the third to fifth doses during 2011-16. The CAG report was based on the test checked districts of Dausa, Jhalawar, Jalore, Nagaur, Pratapgarh, Rajsamand and Sirohi. In November 2016, the state government had also accepted that Vitamin A dose was not administered to the children according to the plan.
When asked about the decline in coverage of Vitamin A supplement in Rajasthan, Dr SM Mittal, the director of Reproductive and Child Health wing of health department, said, “As per our department, the coverage is around 86% and 14% children are left out.” He said it is difficult to reach children in urban places rather than rural places, for which private hospitals and private schools have been roped in so that the coverage could be increased. Dr Mittal said, “We monitor the coverage of administration of Vitamin A dose to children aged nine months to five years through monitors, who conduct sudden check at anganwari centres. These monitors also verify and validate whether the Vitamin A supplement was administered or not.”
Dr Mittal said the Vitamin A supplement campaign is being run in Rajasthan for the last 17 years and is administered to the children twice a year at anganwari centres and government health centres in May-June and November-December. Administering Vitamin A supplement to children enhances their resistance to diseases, thus reducing the infant mortality rate by 23%-24%. Besides, it also reduces viral diseases among children by 33% and measles by 50%.
Meanwhile, health minister Kali Charan Saraf on Wednesday launched the 34th round of Vitamin A supplement campaign by administering the dose to a child at an anganwari centre at Malviya Nagar in Jaipur. He said the month-long campaign will continue till December 15. The department, which had administered Vitamin A supplement to 64.07 lakh children in the 33rd round from May to June this year, targets 77.95 lakh children in the 34th round.