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80% of Kids Below Five Are Malnourished In Bihar

PM Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said levels of under-nutrition in the country were “unacceptably high” despite impressive GDP growth, and did not hesitate in accepting that malnutrition is a national shame.The pronouncement resonates in the state even though several health indicators have shown an upward trend, including high vaccination percentage, for which chief minister Nitish Kumar became the first recipient of the Gates Vaccine Innovation Award

Though several initiatives have been launched to address malnutrition, particularly among children, adolescent girls and pregnant women, Bihar accounts for nearly 58% malnutrition among children, which is above the national average of 46%. The situation gets compounded as 80% of children below five years of age are malnourished. Again, around 2/3rd women in child bearing age are malnourished in the state, the highest in the country. The figures entail a simple and clear message – a greater effort is required to remove the malady.

High incidence of malnutrition among children can be attributed to several factors which include low intake of nutritious food, non-availability of quality health services, absence of adequate community workers, low institutional delivery and non-access to cheap medicines. These apart, social practices such as early marriage and pregnancy and lack of breastfeeding, too, contribute to higher malnutrition rate in the state. There are other hindrances, too, that include low birth weight babies, non-spacing of children and anaemia among women.

However, state health department has initiated several measures recently to combat malnutrition. Says health secretary Sanjay Kumar, “A three-pronged strategy has been unveiled in the state to combat malnutrition.”

First, he said, a 30-bed nutritional rehabilitation centre (NRC) is running in all the 38 districts of the state, primarily focusing on acute malnourished children. Second, programmes are being run under the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), run by the department of social welfare, which include those aiming to change behavioural patterns related to early marriage, non-spacing of children and lack of breastfeeding.

Third, the health department has launched micronutrient programmes, which include providing vitamin A capsules and iron supplements, improved diet for pregnant women along with advocating the benefits of consumption of iodized salt. The programme running at every health sub-centre across the state aims to counter malnourishment which is a major challenge facing the state, admits Kumar.



Hundreds of Malnourished Children Suffering from AFP in Bihar

Hundreds of children in Bihar’s East Champaran district bordering Nepal, have been found suffering from Acute Flaccid Paralysis due to malnutrition, officials said on Thursday.

Officials said that 442 children in the district were found suffering from AFP.

“AFP in children was detected when the United Nations Children’s Fund sent stool samples of 542 children of the district to Luckhnow for test,” the official said.

Dr Anil Kumar Singh,a district official, said that AFP in children is caused by malnutrition. District civil surgeon Dr Kameshwar Mandal said that during the polio immunisation campaign, some children were reportedly found to be suffering from paralysis.

Earlier this year, the State government launched a special programme addressing malnutrition in children. The programme was rolled out at every health sub-centre at each village across the state, with focus on removing malnutrition among children, young girls and pregnant women.

Latest government data has said that Bihar accounts for 58 per cent malnutrition among children which is above the national average of 46 per cent.

AFP is a clinical manifestation characterised by weakness or paralysis and reduced muscle tone without other obvious cause.



About 20 million kids in India are orphans

About 20 million children, about 4% of their population in India and higher than people living in Delhi, are orphan. Of them, parents of only 0.3% children have died and rest have been abandoned. The figure is result of a study done by SOS Children’s Village by analyzing data from

National Family Health Survey-3 for the year 2005-06 and the population estimation by the Census of India to find the dark spots for children below the age of 18 in India.

It were the poorer states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, which had higher number of orphan children as compared to richer northern and southern states of India. As a result, the central zone has highest number of orphan children followed by east zone. The two zones also cover most of the naxal affected regions in India.

“Poverty has been a significant contributor in high orphan children in these states,” said Rakesh Jinsi, secretary general of the NGO SOS Children’s Village. “Social unrest and terror — militancy and naxalism — are two another major factors behind the high number of orphans in certain states”.

Orphan children for the study were defined as those abandoned and whose both parents have died. Situation of children with single parent has also been analysed in the study.

India has the highest population of children below the age of 18 — 41% of the total population. Although over 4% of them are orphan as per the study, around 13% of them live with either of their parent.

But what the study highlight is that a large number of children in India struggle to survive leave alone having access to education and other welfare measures. Some of these children end up being trafficked or pushed into illegal works.

“Many of the children who are trafficked are those whose parents have died or they have been abandoned,” said a senior government official.

The only good news the study presents is that the overall estimation of orphan children in%age terms is expected to fall by 2021 although their number will increase from present 20 million to 24 million. However, there is no comparative data to indicate whether the number of orphan children has increased or decreased.

The SOS Children Village did not present the segregated data on sex-ratio these children to find out whether abandoning of the children is based sex of the child or not.

“In case of poor people abandoning is more because of economic reasons than gender,” said Jinsi.


India ‘mystery illness’ kills 28 children in Bihar

At least 28 children in India’s Bihar state have died in the past week from an unidentified illness, officials say.

Officials said that all of the children were between two and eight years. They died in Muzaffarpur town, 80kms (50 miles) from the state capital, Patna.

Bihar Health Minister Ashwani Choubey told the BBC that a team of doctors from Delhi is visiting Muzaffarpur on Tuesday to diagnose the disease.

Local doctors say the symptoms are similar to Japanese encephalitis.

But, they say, an important symptom of Japanese encephalitis is a stiffening of the neck, which is absent from the Bihar cases.

On Sunday, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar told reporters that the disease had not been identified yet.

“Without identifying the disease how can we say what is killing the children there? The local doctors are giving treatment only on the basis of symptoms,” he said.

Officials said blood samples of some of the ill children have been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune and National Institute of Communicable Diseases in Delhi for test and identification.

Meanwhile, local TV channels say a number of sick children are being admitted to hospitals across northern Bihar.


“There is no end to child slavery”

KANPUR: Twelve-year-old Mahesh (name changed) had no idea of what was in store for him when he landed at the Kanpur Central railway station from a small town in Jharkhand. He was with his `mama’ (uncle). The latter took him to a roadside `dhaba’ where the owner promised him a good salary and perks for some hours of work. However, all that the child got was round-the-clock slavery and sound thrashings.

Mahesh’s story, who is now a part of the Child Helpline, repeats itself in restaurants, industrial units, motor garage, hotels and other big and small units. A story that speaks of the cruelty minors are put through despite legislations against child labour.

In October 2006, a nation-wide ban on children below 14 working as domestic help came into force under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. Years later, nothing seems to have changed. A rampant survey by TOI shows that despite the ban, many underage children are still facing exploitation at tea stalls, car workshops, canteens or dhabas all over the Industrial City.

A survey by Child Helpline (1098) also estimates that more than 30,000 children are working as labourers and domestic helpers in the city. Statistics show that an organisation, that was part of the Child Helpline, rescued and rehabilitated 425 children in the past three years. The children, mostly in the age group of 10-14, were rescued from restaurants, shops and homes. Many were also rehabilitated, especially those who were brought from smaller towns of eastern UP and Bihar.

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Girls sweep Bihar madrassa board results

*The following article demonstrates that when given equal opportunities, girls can excel and in this case, even surpass boys in academic achievements. Thus, it is so important to invest in the learning opportunity of girls especially in impoverished areas such as Bihar.

Patna: Girls have created history by securing top ranks in Class 10 examination conducted by the Bihar Madrassa Education Board, officials here said.

Nasra Khatoon, of Dakhi village of Madhubani district, has secured the first rank in Class 10 (Fauquania)level examination and Umme Eman of Baunsi village of the same district has bagged the second rank, a board official said after the results were declared on Wednesday.

Maulana Ajaj Ahmad, chairman of the Madrassa Education Board of Bihar, told IANS here that these girls have made a new beginning.

“They have proved that girls can also top examinations conducted by the madrassa board like the CBSE, ICSE and the Bihar State Examination Board,” he said.

Girls studying in madrassas have taken the lead not only in the Class 10 level (Fauquania) but also in other examination conducted by the madrassa board.

In the Fauquania exam, 66,988 girls passed whereas the figure for boys stood at 43,233. Similarly, in Maulavi exam (Class 12 level), more girls — 37,391 — passed as compared to 33,332 boys.

“Girls have outperformed boys in the Class 10 examination of the madrassa board,” Ahmad said, adding that this year, of the 27 students who shared the top ten ranks in Fauquania examination, 21 were girls.

In the Madrassa board exams, girls have been doing better than boys for the last few years, he added.

Bihar has over 4,000 madrassas, including over 1,118 state-run Islamic schools. There are 2,459 unaided madrassas and hundreds of others operating at different places.

According to the first ever status paper brought out by the Bihar State Madrassa Education Board, there are only 32 madrassas for girls under the government-aided category and 576 in the unaided category. Bihar Muslim women have a low literacy rate of 31.5 percent only.


India’s census reveals a glaring gap: 914 girls for every 1000 boys

India’s census reveals a country obsessed by boys and sex-selection laws that no one will enforce. Continuing female foeticide explains why the child sex ratio is getting worse

In the world’s largest democracy a massive crisis of missing girls is unfolding, according to India’s 2011 census. The latest census shows that the gap between the number of girls per 1,000 boys up to the age of six has widened to 914, a decrease from 927 a decade ago, at the 2001 census. In a country where a large part of the population finds it hard to get access to toilets and clean drinking water, access to illegal foetal sex-selection procedures seems easier.

The girl child in India is falling prey to the profit-driven ultrasound industry and doctors who commit foeticide without compunction. The child sex ratio is emblematic of the status of women in the country.

More than a dozen female foetuses were found dumped in a city in eastern Bihar state recently, days before the damning child sex ratio was revealed. Although there has been a fall in the rate of population growth (pdf), awareness of family size is accompanied by a greater preference for boys – a trend seen across class and rural-urban divides.

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‘Animals here are better off than human beings in this cursed, holy region’

Despite its economic successes, India is a place where some are still oppressed by the caste system, poverty, hunger and exploitative moneylending?

HUNGER is an everyday reality for Nanku Bhuyian, a Maha Dalit or lowest-caste widow from the remote and arid Jalhe Bhongia village in India’s eastern Bihar state, seemingly forgotten by the local authorities.

On a good day, the 50-year-old and her family of six survive on boiled roots and leaves from the native chakura tree – provided she can manage to scrounge some water and firewood and wild fruits foraged from the swiftly depleting forest 21km away – a 12-hour return journey.

It has been months since Bhuyian or her family ate either an onion or a potato. They simply cannot afford either.

On other days, they often go to sleep hungry and thirsty as the only pump in the village frequently runs dry and the trip to the nearest, fetid water pond over hard, sun-baked earth takes more than three hours to negotiate during the summer months.

Five years ago, Bhuyian’s only son, Heera Lal (30), and 13 famished villagers died after consuming the remains of a goat which they exhumed a week after it was buried on the outskirts of Jalhe, barely 150km south of the provincial capital, Patna.

“Animals here are better off than human beings in this cursed, holy region,” the illiterate Bhuyian said last week of her predominantly lowest-caste village, which is close to Bodh Gaya, the place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment 2,555 years ago under a giant tree before going on to propagate Buddhism.

“At least they die with dignity; we don’t even have that luxury,” she added matter-of-factly, recounting in unsettling detail her son’s death as several of her grandchildren milled listlessly around her in searing temperatures of over 45 degrees.

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Health cards for two crore schoolchildren in Bihar

Patna, Jan 28 (PTI) The Bihar government will provide health cards to over two crore school children to ensure regular check-ups and treatment for them.
“We have taken steps for providing more than two crore school children in the age group of 6 years to 14 years with health cards … The scheme will be made effective from March 22, which would be celebrated as Bihar Diwas,” Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said today.
“Whatever expenses will be incurred on the preparation of the health cards will be borne by the state government, which accords top priority to the health sector in its programme for good governance,” he said while addressing a gathering after flagging off the ”Gram Siksha Chetna Yatra” from historic Gandhi Maidan here.
The human resource development department of the state will help assist the health department in the work, he added.
Deputy Chief Minister S K Modi, Health Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey and Principal Secretary (Health) Amarjeet Sinha participated in the programme.



UNICEF chief urges focus on most vulnerable children during India visit

The head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called for focusing on the most vulnerable children to save more lives, during a visit to India, where he got a first-hand look at efforts to deliver targeted health services to the poor.

During a visit to the eastern state of Bihar on Tuesday, Executive Director Anthony Lake administered oral polio vaccine to babies brought by their families to be immunized during Village Health and Nutrition Day, which offers integrated health services to villagers once a month.“We can save more lives, not by forgetting the poorest people and the hardest to reach places, but by focusing investment directly upon them,” said Mr. Lake. “India is in the process of proving that such an equity focus is not only right in principle, it is right in practice – providing returns in the poorest areas.”According to UNICEF, 741 of the more than 1,600 children affected by polio last year worldwide were in India. Of those cases, 719 were children from the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.The Polio Partnership in India, led by the Government and carried out with support from UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, works with health workers, civil society groups and local communities to make sure every child under the age of five is immunized against polio.Thanks to the polio vaccination campaigns conducted in Bihar in 2010, only nine cases of the disease have been recorded there this year.Workers involved in the immunization drives also promote diarrhoea management with oral rehydration salts and zinc, as well as handwashing, toilet use and exclusive breastfeeding.

“What you are doing here in India today – focusing on providing targeted services at the community and health facility level, strengthening the continuum of care and developing a framework for following up throughout a child’s life with other lifesaving interventions – is a blueprint for us all and the world should be watching your progress,” Mr. Lake told UNICEF staff working in the area.


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