ibnlive » Health

Jul 23, 2007 at 10:04am IST

Surburban Mumbai starves, govt eats words

Mumbai: The Shingade family survives on daily wages and with over five mouths to feed, there just isn’t enough money for a proper meal.

So the family’s girl child, four-yr-old Shital, eats just dal and is grossly underweight for her age.

“We don’t have money to buy medicines or treat the children, so they are ill,” says her family member Litu Shingade.

Similar stories can be heard across suburban Mumbai where a steady rise in the number of malnourished children in tribal and slum pockets has startled the government, forcing it to sit up and take notice.

"Doctor told me she's weak because there's not enough nutrition for mother and child,” says father of another patient, Dilip Hileem.

A Rs 600-cr disaster?

The state’s ambitious Integrated Child Development scheme also throws up startling facts and reports 500 cases of malnutrition in the areas.

What used to be largely a rural Maharashtra phenomenon - with over 400 starvation deaths reported from Melghat area last year - malnutrition is now raising its ugly head in the heart of the city.

Clearly, the Rs 600-crore scheme is not penetrating to the grassroots level.

In May this year, areas of suburban Mumbai like Andheri, Mulund, Bhandup and Goregaon reported eight deaths related to malnutrition.

Lack of proper maternal care during pregnancy and poor nutrition for newborns are among the many reasons why these children are severely undernourished.

Though the state government has admitted to increasing number of malnutrition cases in Mumbai, it also insists everything is under control.

"The government is taking all measures and we are on a drive against malnutrition,” says the state’s Women and Child Welfare Minister, Harshavardhan Patil.