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Malnutrition prevalent amongst Tribal Population

Published: 2nd Nov, 2023

Context:

As per the recent findings, Maharastra’s Nandubar district have lack of crucial digital weighing machines, which helps to assess malnutrition in infants, pregnant women and new mothers.

  • The issue of lack of weighing scales in the district was highlighted in September by the government-appointed Tribal Project Core Committee.

Nandurbar:

  • Nandurbar district is an administrative district in the northwest corner of Maharashtra state in India.
  • On 1 July 1998, Dhule was bifurcated as two separate districts now known as Dhule and Nandurbar.
  • Nandurbar is a tribal-dominated district.

Findings of the data:

  • Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), a government programme that provides health and education services to children under the age of six and their mothers which shows that;
    • Around 2,094 (or 1.14%) of the 1,82,318 children screened in Nandurbar in June were found to have Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and;
    • 14,347 (or 7.87%) Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) – both conditions that have serious consequences, including mortality and impaired intellectual development.
  • Between April 2019 and March 2020, 768 children under the age of five died in the district.
    • The number dipped to 694 in 2020-21, only to rise to 779 in 2021-22 and to 812 in 2022-23.
  • ASHA workers at PHCs and sub-centres are also required to weigh pregnant women, new mothers and new-borns up to six weeks after delivery to assess their overall health and nutritional status and ensure appropriate interventions if malnutrition is detected.

What is the issue?

  • The issue is lack of weighting machines which is required to take the weights of pregnant mothers, new mothers, new born babies and children under 3 years of age.
    • Weighing machines provides accurate picture of outcomes which are intended to achieve by minimising the prevalence of maternal mortality, infant mortality and other nutritional support under ICDS etc.
  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends the use of digital weighing scales for monitoring maternal and infant health.
  • With a population of nearly 16 lakh, of which 70 per cent are from tribal communities, Nandurbar ranks the lowest in the state on the Human Development Index — a statistical measure of key dimensions of human development, including life expectancy.
  • The scales are required to weigh infants, children and pregnant women and this data is used by Anganwadi and ASHA workers to provide nutritional support.

Challenges posed by the issue:

  • The risk of a new-born being malnourished is higher if the mother is malnourished during pregnancy.
    • A mother’s nutritional status directly impacts the developing
  • Inadequate maternal nutrition can lead to low birth weight, preterm birth and other health complications for the baby.
  • ASHA workers say monitoring pregnant women is important since maternal deaths are on the rise in the district.
  • According to ICDS data, Nandurbar saw 29 maternal deaths between April 2018 and March 2019.
  • The number shot up to 42 in 2019-20, followed by a slight drop to 40 in 2020-21, before rising to 42 in 2021-22 and touching 46 in 2022-23.

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