Activists criticise Maharashtra’s ready-to-use-food scheme for malnourished kids
Mumbai city news: Activists were shocked that despite the disastrous results of the pilot at Nandurbar, the state government is adamant to go ahead with the RUTF schememumbai Updated: Jun 07, 2017 14:16 IST
Social activists criticised the state government’s move to provide ‘Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food’ (RUTF) to malnourished children, calling it a contractor-driven scheme, which will cost the state Rs100 crore. They pointed to a pilot involving 14 children, of whom only two showed improvement.
Under this scheme, a paste is given to all malnourished children.The food paste consists of peanut butter, sugar, vegetable oil and milk providing the kids 500 calories.
Targeting the state’s women and child welfare department, activists involved in the malnutrition eradication programme expressed shock that despite the disastrous results of the pilot at Nandurbar, the department is adamant to go ahead with the RUTF scheme. “In the pilot project, out of the 14 malnourished children, just two improved while the other 12 remained malnourished. As long as the food paste packets are served, children gained weight but after the paste was stopped, they started losing weight again,” said Purnima Upadhyay, coordinator, Jan Arogya Abhiyaan.
She alleged that several children became addicted to the sweet paste and refused to eat freshly cooked home food. “Both the Supreme Court and Centre guidelines say Mahila Mandals and self help groups need to be roped in to provide local nutritious food to the malnourished children. But here we can see the whole scheme being tailor-made to suit the contractor,” said Brian Lobo, an activist who works for malnourished children at Palghar.
The state provides nutritious food to the malnourished children between the age of 6 months to 6 years. This is done through the Anganwadis and village child development centres (VCDC) at the village level. Here the fresh food meals were given to children under supervision and it cost it Rs18 crore annually. However two years ago, the state abolished the VCDC saying that they had no funds to finance this scheme.
Minister of state for women and children welfare Vidya Thakur refused to comment. “I am currently in a programme and cannot talk now,” said Thakur.