Karnataka children at risk of malnutrition, anaemia

Health Karnataka State

Malnutrition and anaemia is prevalent among children who are below five years in Karnataka.  

Increasing malnutrition among children below five years in Karnataka leads to increasing anaemia among them.

National Family Health Survey 5 (NFHS) published by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) states that 35 percent of children below five years are too short for their age, 20 percent are too thin for their height, and 33 percent are underweight.

Anaemia among the children has increased as a result. The NHFS report stated that anaemia among children has increased from  61 – 66 percent.

India stands at the 101st rank out of 116 countries as per Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021. India’s score on GHI indicators is 27.5 which indicate that India has a serious level of hunger.

The office of the Department of Women and Child Development of the Government of Karnataka said, “Various schemes are launched by the government under Integrated Child Development like supplementary nutrition to children at Anganwadi and health check-up of pregnant women. We have launched combined scheme for malnutrition and anaemia—Ksheera Bhagya Yojana which provides 150 ml milk per day for children of age six months to six years.”

The report published by Centre for Budget and Policy Studies (CBPS) shows that the scheme was working well before pandemic.

The scheme was suspended during Covid-19 pandemic and is temporarily started for school children.

Anganwadi worker Shanthamma said that it was resumed for school children and she does not know when it will be resumed for six months to six years category.

The report published by Public Affairs Index (PAI) 2021 states that Karnataka ranks eleventh in implementation of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS).

Source: NFHS 5

Paediatrician Dr. Amit Pilkhane said that malnutrition affects the overall development of children and in some cases can also lead to diarrhoea. “Children under five years of age are underweight due to no proper nutrition in growing age.   Children who are malnourished during one to five years of age also suffer from another long-term effects and are more prone to diseases like diabetes, heart problems in their 40s and 50s,” he said.

He added that when malnourishment increases, the lack of iron in the body causes anaemia. “If children don’t get a properly balanced diet while they are growing up they suffer from anaemia along with malnutrition. Other effects of anaemia are increasing frustration, tiredness and lack of concentration,” he said. 

Malnutrition and anaemia are very common in India among children. They are caused because of a lack of a properly balanced diet with all required vitamins and nutrients, added Dr. Amit.