Millennium Post

Number of malnourished children down to 8.56% under Mamata govt from 47.52% in 2011

Kolkata: The Mamata Banerjee government has been instrumental in bringing down the percentage of malnourished children reasonably in the last eight years, since it assumed power in the state. The number, which stood at 47.52 percent before May 2011, is now down to 8.56 percent, with the total number of such children being 5 lakh across the state.

"In our Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) centres, both normal and the malnourished children are provided with breakfast and day meals that have proper protein and calorie content. The malnourished children, in addition, are entitled to carry their breakfast menu home, after their lunch. The food offered is as per the nutrition index announced by the National Food Security Act," said minister of state for Women and Child Development Shashi Panja, in reply to a query of Left Front MLA Sujit Chakraborty at the state Assembly on Monday.

Panja said that her department will soon introduce 'ready to eat' food that will be a blend of ground wheat, groundnut, Bengal gram and sugar for breakfast. The malnourished children will be allowed to carry this ready to eat food home.

"We are offering training to the self-help groups (SHGs) across the state and SHGs in two districts have already been trained regarding preparation of this ready to eat food. We will begin with two districts and will gradually cover the others," Panja added.

According to an official in the state Women & Child Development department, Jhargram has the highest percentage of malnourished

children in the state at 16 percent.

Interestingly, Murshidabad, which is one of the larger districts of Bengal, has the lowest figure of 4.07 percent. In terms of numbers, West Midnapore has the highest number with 48,069 such children.

In May 2019, the state government has offered food to 77,37,658 children, while the number of malnourished children stood at 5,30,875. The ICDS centres provide such food benefits to mothers and their children between the age group of 6 months to 6 years.

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