Over 5,300 kids malnourished in Daskroi taluka

Ahmedabad district officials have identified 5,380 malnourished and severely malnourished children under six years of age in Daskroi taluka, which will be covered under an intensive month-long, five-meals-a-day programme to be carried out through anganwadis.

The survey, carried out using electronic weighing machines, covered about 23,800 children in the taluka, according to Chief District Health Officer Dr N J Patel.

The figures indicate about 22 per cent of the surveyed children lacked proper nutrition in the taluka, which has a total population of 4.59 lakh.

"About 4,200 of these children were found to be malnourished while the rest were severely malnourished," said Dr Patel, whose team is working with the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).

District Development Officer Banchha Nidhi Pani told The Indian Express on the sidelines of a ceremony held in the city to launch the programme that the focus is on the "lower-level" and "people working on the edge".

The day-long capacity-building workshop, which Pani oversaw, was attended by hundreds of anganwadi workers who will begin the feeding programme in their respective areas on Thursday.

Revenue Minister Anandi Patel also attended the function.

The initiative is part of the Gujarat State Nutrition Mission (GSNM), or Mission Bal Sukham, which was launched via a health department notification a day after Chief Minister Narendra Modi's interview to The Wall Street Journal last August, in which he had blamed the state's high malnourishment levels on figure-conscious women and a largely vegetarian diet.

This newspaper had reported last year that at least 13 lakh children under six years of age were found malnourished across Gujarat by ICDS, which surveyed 39 lakh children registered under it. Of these, 95,586 children were severely malnourished.

A survey conducted in Ahmedabad district last year, soon after the GSNM was launched, had covered 1.44 lakh children in the same age group, but curiously found only 3000-odd severely malnourished, who were put through a 15-day feeding programme.

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