52 percent of Delhi lives in slums, kids malnourished (Lead)

December 17th, 2009 - 8:12 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 17 (IANS) More than half of Delhi’s population lives in urban slums with inadequate provision of basic services, a study released here said. Further, 66 percent of children under the age of six in these slums are undernourished.
According to the study, titled “A Situational Analysis of the Young Child in India”, 52 percent of Delhi’s population resides in urban slums.

The survey, conducted in 4,600 households in six slums in Delhi by Forces, a voluntary organisation working on child care services in India, shows that in comparison to Delhi’s infant mortality rate (IMR) of 40, the IMR in slums is higher at 54 for every 1,000 live births.

The study reveals that 66 percent children under the age of six in these slums are undernourished.

Mridula Bajaj, convenor of Forces said: “Water and sanitation emerged as critical issues in this study, with only 57 percent of families using open spaces for toilets.”

The immunisation level in the slums covers a dismal 34 percent of the population and because of the negligence of civic authorities in providing safe drinking water and sanitation, there is a high incidence of diseases such as diarrhoea (75 percent) and anaemia (63 percent).

“The nutritional status of the urban poor in Delhi is a matter of concern. Delhi has 35.4 percent stunted, 15.5 percent wasted and 33.1 percent underweight children under the age of three despite being a state with the second highest per capita income in India,” the report said.

The report goes on to say that 31 percent of Delhi’s slum dwellers have no sanitation facilities and no underground sewage system. On the plight of construction workers, the report says that 67 percent children and 69 percent women construction workers are undernourished.

The report suggested: “The focus on quality health services has to be accompanied by a clear policy of land allocation for health services in Delhi’s master plan. The current allocation shows a decreased allocation of space for primary health centres in urban poor settlements.”

Amod Kanth, chairman of the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) who was present at the report’s release at the India International Centre, said that more focus should be given to increasing the number of service providers.

“We need more skilled manpower to handle our health services. That is key to proper implementation of the health services to the people,” he said.

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