Chennai: Around 22 per cent of children between three and six years of age were found to be under-nourished in the slum areas of northern Chennai, 20 per cent had severe acute malnutrition and the rest moderate acute malnutrition, according to a study conducted by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare in association with NGO Save the Children.
State programme manager, Alka Singh said, “The programme was begun following the statistical data of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS – III), in which around 23 per cent of children between three and five years of age in Chennai were found to be underweight, while 25 per cent had moderately stunted growth.”
To address the issue, the first phase of the project was begun in July 2013 at 20 non-notified slums in Chennai, requiring funds of Rs 40 lakh. Around 35 community health workers and Integrated Child Development Services officials from 14 anganwadi centres, coming under the project area, were given training in proper nutrition and its effect on growing children so that they could impart it to mothers in the area.
“The area consists of fishermen and daily coolies, whose poor economic condition is a reason for the children being malnourished,” said Lavanya, a community health worker, who recounted how they had to overcome the villagers’ resistance to strangers like themselves by first befriending them.
“We then started asking about their diet,” Lavanya said. “As most of them were involved in fishing activities, their children were fed only rice and fish during meals, leaving them deficient in other nutrients,” the health workers added.
The training programme for the mothers of these children included teaching them recipes made with the locally available cereals, pulses and low-cost vegetables, issuing health mix powders free of cost and teaching them the importance of hygiene.
“My grandson weighed only 8 kg when he was five years old, which was not ideal. Now after a year, he weighs 12 kg,” said Gowri of Appar Nagar.
Selvi, a resident of Kanni Koil, said her daughter, once dull and sickly, was now active, the result of a proper diet and hygiene....
Location: Tamil Nadu