Global experts praise efforts to eliminate malnutrition in Indian state

By Pervez Bari,,

Bhopal: Global experts on management of severe acute malnutrition Prof. Golden and Dr. Grellety have praised the efforts being made in Madhya Pradesh to eliminate malnutrition.

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While talking to senior state government officials and doctors here the other day after a week-long visit to Shivpuri to study the working of nutrition rehabilitation centers, they said that during their tour in Madhya Pradesh they were impressed by the commitment and the high quality of human resource comprising doctors, nurses, “anganwadi” workers, an official spokesman claimed on Wednesday.

They said that they were extremely optimistic due to their exceptional quality of work and their capacity to treat children. They were accompanied by Victor Aguayo, Unicef-India’s Section Chief for Nutrition and the Nutrition specialist with Unicef-Bhopal, Ms Vandana Agrawal.

However, the experts said that it is not the hospitals, health centers or the nutrition rehabilitation centers alone that can tackle the crisis. The problem will also have to be dealt with at community level.

In his presentation, the spokesman said, Prof. Golden pointed out that there has been a revolution when it came to treating severely acute malnutrition and in the ways in which the under-nourished children were treated over the last ten years. He said that there are 40 essential nutrients that must be present for health (not just protein, energy, iron, iodine, vitamin A and zinc).

For addressing the nutrition needs of a severely malnourished child a new class of diet has been developed for treating malnutrition based upon careful studies of recovering children that contain all the nutrients needed to make new functional tissues. The diet, he said, has been formulated into lipid-based spreads that do not support bacterial growth, is ready-to-eat and easy for the malnourished child to digest.

Prof. golden and Dr. Grellety said that use of ready-to-eat-therapeutic feed allows us to treat children in the community so that the vast majority of children can be treated entirely at home and the nutrition rehabilitation centers and hospital facilities should be used to treat those who have serious complications and those who are less than six months of age.

They said that there should be community based management of severe malnutrition by a specially trained team at village level and only those with malnutrition and complications and those less than six months should be referred to the nutrition rehabilitation centers, the spokesman added. ([email protected])