Hundreds of children die of Malnutrition in MP
- Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh, India), SVM News, September 15, 2008:
Hundreds of infants under five years of age have lost their lives
due to malnutrition in four districts of Madhya Pradesh in India
since May 2008.
According to a petition filed in the Supreme Court by Right to Food
Campaign in Madhya Pradesh, 64 Bhil children have died of
malnutrition in Satna since late April.
Similarly, Spandan Seva Samiti, which works among the Korku tribe in
Khalwa block of Khandwa, has reported the deaths of 39 children in
the past 45 days and nearly 100 are still undergoing treatment in
various government hospitals in the district.
The Saharia Mukti Morcha, involved with the impoverished Saharia
tribe in Shivpuri and Sheopur, said 16 children had succumbed to
malaria in Shivpuri and five in Sheopur within the last few days
because their immunity was destroyed by severe malnutrition.
Salem Voice Ministries says that there is a large number of
malnourished children in all over the state of Madhya Pradesh and
hundreds of children dying each month, but no action has been taken
by the government.
But the local authorities and the government have stubbornly refused
to accept that the deaths were due to malnutrition, attributing them
to disease instead.
Kusum Mehdele, the state minister of Women and Child Development
(WCD) says the deaths were caused due to diseases like pneumonia,
viral fever and diarrhoea, but not due to malnutrition.
Vijay Anand Kuril, the District Collector of Satna insisted in his
reply to the commissioner appointed by the Supreme Court to
investigate seven infant deaths that occurred in Satna's Uchrecha
block, that these were due to heat stroke, encephalitis and food
S. B. Singh, District Collector of Khandwa, who ordered an inquiry
after reports of the death of 21 children in Khalwa block were
carried in the Bhopal edition of Hindustan Times also refused to
concede that they were caused by malnutrition. He was blissfully
unaware that the figure had risen to 39 since the report appeared.
However, the report of a survey by a committee appointed last month
by the Divisional Commissioner, Indore, did concede that some of the
deaths in Khandwa could have been due to undernourishment.
"I can categorically state that Jamwati, the four-year-old child who
died on Thursday in our hospital, was suffering from acute
malnutrition, along with pneumonia and septicemia," added Dr Laxmi
Baghel, chief medical and health officer at the Khandwa district
hospital. Another doctor also said that 68 malnutritioned children
had been admitted to their hospital on September 4, a single day.
The NGO's were active in the state to ensure food security to the
people and have conducted the two-month long family health survey to
arrive at the figure of 125 deaths due to malnutrition in just four
districts of Madhya Pradesh. Survey estimates that it affects in
varying degrees around 33,000 children. The reasons are no mystery -
most of these children belong to abysmally poor labourer families,
whose daily earnings - when they are able to find work - rarely
cross Rs 50-70.
Rev. Saji Iype
(Director, Salem Voice Ministries)