It isn’t long since we heard about the heart wrenching deaths of poor little kids in the Muzaffarpur district of Bihar. The Lychees suddenly came under the radar as they had to bear the brunt of causing these gruesome deaths. But a recent report has brought forth some horrific statistics and claim that the child nutrition in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar is worse than some of the African countries.
Infuriating history of encephalitis in Bihar:
(A pathetic sight of Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital in Muzaffarpur district in Bihar)
Many of the African countries are infamous for the despicable conditions of children facing acute shortage of good food and nutrition. The malnutrition of these African countries has been covered by the media innumerable times. And now a shameful fact has come up that several districts in Bihar are no less. Recently, Muzaffarpur district of Bihar thronged the newspapers for several days having witnessed the ill-fated deaths of more than hundred children due to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) and many more are feared infected. What is more shocking is that encephalitis is not new to this region. The North Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh has witnessed AES related deaths for the past few decades. You will be aghast to know that just two years back 500 such innocent children lost their lives courtesy encephalitis in Gorakhpur district of Uttar Pradesh which has similar conditions like the Muzaffarpur district. It is enraging to know that between the years 2016 and 2018; more than 200 cases of Japanese encephalitis were reported that claimed 46 lives in Bihar alone.
Bihar child deaths shudders Africa:
India’s biggest survey on the status of health,(NFHS)-4, the National Family Health Survey, confirms thatMuzaffarpur district has terrible records of child nutrition. The appalling stats only for this particular district show that 48 per cent of the children under the age of five are stunted, 17.5 per cent are too thin for their height (wasting), and 42 per cent are underweight. All these numbers have uncovered the deadly malnutrition story. Rest of Bihar is no good, as the national figures for stunted and underweight children are 38 and 36 per cent, respectively. No need to look down on the African countries as only 31.3 per cent African children are found to be stunted as per the WHO statistics. The Indian authorities need to hang their heads in shame as the percentage of stunted children in African countries like Ghana (18.8 per cent), Sierra Leone (28.8 per cent) and South Sudan (31.1 percent) are much lower than reported in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar.
Africa again outperforms Muzaffarpur with regards to wasting seen in children with a number of 6.3 per cent against 17.5 per cent of Muzaffarpur. WHO estimates that every year nearly 2.7 million children die due to malnutrition globally. Even though, just 7.8% children (6 to 23 months) receive suitable diet in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar.Muzaffarpur again tops the statistics of Anaemia among children than most African countries.
High time for action:
These heart- wrecking numbers can go on and on. But, enough of ruminating the disturbing facts and now, it calls for an immediate action from the both the state and central government and the health authorities of our country. Strict preventable measures to combat malnutrition need to come into practice with no further delay.Some of the poorest economies have reportedly worked on the essential mother child nutrition, then why can’t we?