//Child hunger deaths in Maharashtra

Child hunger deaths in Maharashtra

Monday, April 17, 2006 (Poishet village, Maharashtra):

There are renewed reports of child deaths from hunger in and around Poishet village in Maharashtra.

At least nine children have died in the first week of April in Jawhhar Taluk and at least 70 children are said to be seriously affected in the state’s poorest districts.One of them is two-year old Archana, her weight is four kilograms – a quarter of the average weight for a child that age.

She suffers from acute malnourishment and she is placed in Grade Four category – the most advanced stage."The doctor says she has TB. She was very thin at the time of her birth but then just a month ago we took her to the hospital and she has improved with medicines and food," said the child’s mother Yamuni Bai Gaikwag. Like the other adivasi families, Archana’s mother depends on the local anganwadi for additional food, which under a central government scheme should be provided twice a day to the children.

Crippled health services Villagers say lack of adequate nutrition is not the only problem. "When our children are ill we spend hours at the local primary health center but no one pays any attention to us," said Parshuram Gaikwad, a resident of Poishet village.

"If there is a doctor then the nurse is absent and if there is a nurse there is no doctor. They finally tell us to go to the big hospital at Jawhar," the resident added. The primary health centre in the area is responsible for 22 villages and 55 tribal hamlets – but the centre is closed on Sundays. The health centre does not even have a vehicle to carry patients to the district hospital in case of an emergency.