Centre expects dip in underweight children

TNN | Feb 11, 2014, 02.36 PM IST

VARANASI: The central government expects that the proportion of underweight children may come down to 33% by 2015, though as per one of the targets of a Millennium Development Goal it is required to be reduced to 26% in the country by this time.

In a written reply to the Lok Sabha on February 7, union minister for women and child welfare Krishna Tirath said that the proportion of underweight children is expected to come down to 33% by 2015. But, the records of Children in India 2012, a statistical appraisal by the union ministry of statistics and programme implementation, reveal that 43% of children under five years of age in the country are underweight.

At local level, the next survey of malnourished children in the district under Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) will be held in April, but the figures put before the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) by NGOs during public hearing in August last indicate that there are over 1,450 malnourished children in two blocks out of eight in the district. The public hearing was headed by Yogesh Dubey, NCPCR member and chairman UP core committee on child rights.

The data of malnourished children was collected by Shambhunath Singh Research Foundation and People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights in Pindra and Kashi Vidyapeeth blocks. In Pindra block, 454 children were found malnourished while over 1,000 children were malnourished in Kashi Vidyapeeth block.

According to Gurmit Gupta, the local ICDS official, the survey of such children is conducted in April and October every year. She expressed inability to provide the last survey findings when contacted on Monday.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted during the UN Millennium Summit, 2000 by 189 countries including India consists of eight goals, which are sought to be achieved during the period 1990 to 2015. The MDG-1 is regarding eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, which have two targets. One was to halve the percentage of population below the National Poverty Line. The other was to halve the proportion of people affected by hunger.

The indicator for measuring target-2 is the prevalence of underweight children under three years of age. Thus, from the estimated 52% in 1990, the proportion of underweight children below 3 years is required to be reduced to 26% by 2015.

In her reply, the minister said that monitoring data of ICDS currently indicated 29.46% of underweight children as on September, 2013. All-India trend of the proportion of underweight children below 3 years of age shows that underweight has declined by 3 percentage points during 1998-99 to 2005-06 from about 43% to about 40% (as per the National Family Health Survey, 2005-06).

As per the records of children in India 2012, 43% of children under five years of age are underweight for their age. During the period between NFHS-2 (1998-99) and NFHS-3 (2005-06), a decline has been observed in case of stunted growth and underweight among children under 3 years of age, whereas the percentage of case of acute malnutrition, children too thin for their height, has increased.