Anita, the supermother for malnourished children

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Patna, Jan 16: The star girl of UNICEF, Anita, is now a ''supermother'' for malnourished children living in the villages of Muzaffarpur district.

Young Anita, of a sleeping hamlet Patyasa under Bonchaha block of Muzaffarpur district, begins her day at around 1000 hours every morning. Qith a weighing machine, provided to her by the UNICEF, she visits villages.

Moved with the condition of the children of downtrodden, Anita weighs the tinytots and facilitates admission of the impoverished children at the malnutrition centre established by the UNICEF at Saraiya block.

Anita said she counsels the mothers of the undernourished children for their admission at the centre and also sensitise the guardians, specially mothers, for supplimenting their kids with nutritional diet under the given circumstances and the foodstuff available to them.

She said apart from the general counselling for maintaining good health, the UNICEF centre too keeps the children on a month-long diet regimen to help overcome malnutrition.

Anita, branded star girl of the UNICEF in 2006 by former President A.P.J.Abdul Kalam following her efforts oriented at economic independence through bee keeping, said the weighing machine provided to her by the UNICEF was actually a boon for the downtrodden sections.

She said the government help was essential for maintaining the health of malnourished children and suggested the government set up more centres in every block on the pattern of UNICEF.

Anita, who began her new mission on January 8, said she gets immense pleasure by providing dietary supplements and guidance to the malnourished children for overcoming their problems.

The star girl has so far visited the thickly populated Patyasa, Sharfuddinur, Jalan, Pampur, Jaipal villages and the area situated all along Muzaffarpur-Darbhanga road on National Highway 57.

She said her mission to apprise the mothers about the proper health and hygiene would continue.

Anita convinces lactating mothers by outlining the importance of mothers milk. She said breastfeeding enhances the capacity and capability of a child. ''Breastmilk, containing 70 different substances, is ideal for the child as it prevents vitamin-A deficiency, reduces risk of sickness and infections and immunises the baby automatically,'' she said.

Anita had gathered relevent information about the nutritional value of mothers milk. On the basis of pamphlets and documents given to her by UNICEF, she said breastmilk contains suitable quantities of proteins and fats, lactose, Vitamins D, C and E - essential for the baby's proper growth.

Apart from nutrition, breastfeeding also provided unique learning and development opportunities to the newborns. It increases the Intelligence Quotient(IQ) by enhancing optimal brain development. A breast-fed baby is likely to have an IQ of around eight points higher than a non-breast fed baby.

She said malnutrition in the young can dull motivation and curiosity, reduce play and exploratory activities and decrease interaction with the environment and caregivers.

According to an official information more than 50 per cent children in the state were malnourished due to abject poverty. The poor socio-economic structure, lack of knowledge, medical facilities and healthcare for the children were the prime reasons for malnutrition.

UNICEF state representative Bijay Rajbhandari said all children should be entitled to sound nutrition, healthcare, better hygiene, basic education and an opportunity to realise their full potential.

According to him, early childhood care was a solid investment as for every rupee spent, there was a Rs seven return through cost savings. He appealed to the people to invest in their children as poor, malnourished and weak children would make for a poor and powerless state.


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