Kolkata, Jan 28: More than half the children aged below five are anaemic in West Bengal, the latest National Family Health Survey 2015-16 (NFHS 4) data published by the Union Health Ministry have shown.
A release by Kolkata-based Child Rights & You (CRY) said this last week.
A marginal improvement
It said the nutritional status of children in West Bengal is found to have improved only marginally, compared to that of the previous NFHS data published almost a decade ago.
Besides child malnutrition, the quality of ante-natal and delivery care for expecting mothers also show worrying trends leaving a negative impact on the child's health in the state, as the recent survey findings suggest.
The overall findings of the first phase of the NFHS 4, however, show marginal improvements in the maternal and child health and nutrition across 13 states and two UTs.
West Bengal though has done fairly well in several child health and nutrition indicators like immunisation and treatment of critical childhood diseases, the progression rate of critical indicators like child nutrition, which has a direct link with the children's overall growth and development, remains far.
Atindra Nath Das, Regional Director (East) of said: "The NFHS is not just a reflection of the state of health and nutritional well-being of children but it also provides the direction for corrective measures in state policies and programmes. For West Bengal, the data so released reinforces the need for the state to address nutritional security of children and expecting mothers as an emergency."
‘Need stronger Anganwadi centres'
"In the context of malnutrition, strengthening of Anganwadi centres and a robust system of growth monitoring, becomes imperative", He added.
NFHS findings gives three sets of data as child malnutrition indicators stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height) and underweight (low weight for age).
As per the recent NFHS findings, anaemia in children is found to have decreased marginally across most of the states, but still remains worryingly widespread.
In West Bengal, though the number of children under five are suffering from anaemia decreased by seven percentage points over the last decade (from 61% in 2005-‘06 to 54.2% in 2015-'16), one in every two children is still anaemic.
The mothers do not fare any better either, as more than 60% of all women and 53.2% of pregnant women are found anaemic in West Bengal, the survey revealed.
Alarming IMR rate
The data also revealed that nine out of 11 states have not been able to reduce the Infant mortality rate (IMR) even by two percentage points annually.
As per the analysis of critical child health indicators of NFHS 4 done by CRY, the only states that have been able to sustain a pace of annual reduction in IMR by two points are West Bengal and Tripura. Currently in Indiam 40 out of 1000 infants don't get celebrate their first birthday.
The much-awaited survey on India's health indicators was released by the Health Ministry after almost a decade. While the report provides an improvement in the overall health of children, the rate of progression on annual basis is alarming.
The status of nutrition for children under five shows marginal improvement.
While both the proportion of underweight and stunted (low height for age) children has seen a decline, the proportion of wasted children has increased in 6 of the 11 states (West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Karnataka, Goa and Sikkim).
Mission Indradhanush still a far cry
Mission Indradhanush, the national initiative to achieve cent percent full immunisation seems to be a distant dream in light of the status of immunisation revealed by NFHS.
In eight out of 11 states (Tamil Nadu, Haryana, UT, Tripura, Karnataka, Goa, MP, Sikkim) of the country, one out of three children dos not receive full immunization. Further analysis shows that these states have failed to increase their immunisation coverage even by 2 percent per year.
The first phase of the survey included Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and two Union Territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Puducherry.