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Children In Slums Of Mumbai Might be Suffering From Malnutrition

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Health Committee had on Monday and Tuesday organized a medical team and conducted health camps// Chamunda Nagar and Shyam Nagar areas of Bhandup where cases of malnutrition have been reported. Their report has concluded that the children were healthy. However, a private survey conducted by an NGO, Bal Hakk Abhiyan (BHA), on the children barely a few hours later, found three children suffering from malnutrition.

BHA has claimed that Kamal Chauhan (2 ? years old), Prem Tahire (8) and Saima Hasan (6) all suffer from Grade III malnutrition. Vinod Udartiya, a volunteer with BHA, while explaining that Chauhan’s ideal weight should be 10 kg, but she weighs only 5 kg, while Tahire’s ideal weight is 20 kg, but his actual weight is 15 kg and Hasan’s ideal weight is 16 kg but is weighing only 13 kg stated that these looked very obviously as extreme cases to them.

Mangal Mange, chairman, BMC public health committee said that their tests were based on the height weight and other general criteria, and that they were confident about the accuracy of their claim. He further stated that the children living in these slums were perfectly healthy and fine, and if the NGO is making any counter claims, that they will have to prove themselves.

BHA have also claimed that their tests were based on the WHO recommended indices of height-for-age, weight-for-age and weight-for-height. Though the BHA did not have any medical professionals conducting the tests, Udartiya explained that when the doctors from UK had visited to test these children last year, they taught them how to assess their growth patterns.

BHA says that now that they can insist that government hospitals admit the children. “The last time we took them to a hospital, they conducted some routine checks and sent them back. This time we have proof,” says Udartiya also explained that the last time they conducted a similar test and taken the children to the hospital, routine tests were conducted on them and sent back claiming that they were in good health. And so now he states that they have definite proof and that they can insist that the government hospitals admit and treat the children.

Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has announced that he has asked BMC to take appropriate measures with regards to the reports of malnutrition. He stated that the issue has been discussed with the Municipal Commissioner, and the concerned minister has also been asked to take appropriate steps. Meanwhile Mange had explained that for BMC, providing basic ration to families living below the poverty line is a priority.

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