Madhya Pradesh admits 48,000 kids malnourished, denies deaths

September 23rd, 2008 - 3:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhopal, Sep 23 (IANS) Madhya Pradesh has admitted to having 48,000 malnourished kids in the state but the death of 93 children in past four months were “in no way related to malnutrition”, a minister claimed here Tuesday.”Malnutrition never causes death. It results in low immunity in the child,” said state PWD Minister Kailash Vijaywargiya, who is also the government spokesperson.

“48,000 kids in the state were malnourished but the death of 93 children, as against 115 reported in the media, in Khandwa and Satna districts in the past four months were in no way related to malnutrition,” said Vijaywargiya, adding these children died of various diseases including high viral fever, dehydration and diarrhoea.

He, however, admitted that the children who died were also suffering from malnutrition.

“But the government alone can’t be blamed for it. There are certain tribes in the state, who due to low level of literacy, do not believe in doctor’s treatment but have more faith in Ojhas (witch doctors),” he said.

There have been cases where the government efforts led to hospitalisation of children, Vijaywargiya said, but the patient and their relatives, including parents, fled.

He blamed it on the tribals’ life style saying, “take for instance the case of Korku women who are in the habit of leaving their children behind at home while going out for work.”

The tribals - Korku in Khandwa district and Kol in Satna district - were most affected by malnutrition.

“To tackle the problem of malnourishment, the state government launched schemes like Bal Shakti and Shaktiman,” he said.

“Under Shaktiman scheme, the centre gave Rs.2 per child while the state government added Rs.4 to it for providing nutritious food to the children in the affected areas.”

Vijaywargiya refuted the Congress allegation about corruption to the tune of Rs.3 billion in the schemes meant for child welfare. He said: “It was a gimmick since only Rs.16 crore (Rs.1.6 million) were allocated for it of which only 50 percent has been spent so far.”

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