Govt body directs Anganwadi workers to take malnourished children to NRCs

NEW DELHI: Taking cognizance of the recent deaths of children due to alleged malnutrition the Delhi government directed to all the Anganwadi workers to ensure Severe Acute Malnourished (SAM) and Moderate Acute Malnourished (MAM) cases should be routed through Anganwadi workers to the nearest Nutrition Rehabilitation Centers (NRC) with the proper referral. The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has sent this notice to the Child Development Project Officers. The DCPCR has already initiated meetings with the Anganwadi workers where they are explaining the problems faced by the children in Delhi.

Delhi has the highest percentage of severely stunted children (11.7 per cent), the Urban Hunger and Malnutrition study by not-for-profit Naandi Foundation has found. The recent National Family Health Survey showed that two out of six children in Delhi are malnourished. In the time when acute starvation allegedly took the life of three children in the heart of the city, the recent surveys showed that nearly 32.4 per cent children in Delhi are malnourished. The number is significantly the same as the malnourished children statistics of one of the poorest countries in the world, Nigeria.

"We have all the reports on the malnutrition and as a watchdog, we have also directed the Anganwadi workers regarding how to deal with such cases. The ground reality is tough and the government is working to ensure the protection of the children," said Ranjana Prasad, a member of DCPCR. She also said that the DCPCR has also discussed with the workers on how to deal with such cases. "We are continuously monitoring the situation and I am hopeful that the things will get better," said Prasad.

However, the activists and the child right workers say that the ground reality of malnutrition in Delhi is really bad. " The malnutrition is mostly seen in the slums of Delhi where most of the people are migrants and they do not have access to food as required," said Jaya Singh of Child Rights and You (CRY). She added that the Anganwadi workers also do not work properly because of alleged pressure. "The malnutrition cases are not reported by the workers in reality which makes the situation worse," said Singh. However, she agreed the lack of awareness is one of the biggest issues in Delhi in terms of malnutrition.

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