Government tackling malnourishment among children: Minister

December 15th, 2008 - 9:51 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) With 40 percent children below the age of five suffering from malnourishment, the government is taking a slew of measures to tackle the problem, including conducting programmes for nutrition awareness. Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury told the Rajya sabha Monday that malnutrition is not the direct cause of death among children in India.

“Major causes of mortality among children in India include acute respiratory infection, diarrhoea, measles, low birth weight and poor breastfeeding practices,” she said.

She said Justice S. Rajendra Babu, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, had said that 50 percent children in India suffer from malnutrition.

But she said the National Family Health Survey-3 report had put the percentage of undernourished children below five years at 40.4 percent by following the World Health Organisation (WHO) Child Growth standards.

Chowdhury said malnutrition is a multi-faceted problem and determinants of which vary from food insecurity, female illiteracy, poor access to health care, immunisation, unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation.

The minister said the Community Food and Nutrition Extension Units of the Food and Nutrition Board in the ministry are engaged in nutrition awareness programmes and organising training courses for improving the dietary habits of people.

She said under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme, supplementary nutrition is being provided to children upto six years of age and to pregnant and lactating mothers.

The minister said they have also started a nutrition programme for adolescent girls in 51 districts under which they provide free foodgrains to undernourished adolescent girls.

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