“Bengal needs to check children’s deaths, malnutrition”


Kolkata: The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) Wednesday said West Bengal needs to improve its infant mortality rate, primary education and malnutrition of poor children, and should address the issue of equity in terms of access of services to the poor urban children.

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“In terms of children mortality rate, education, especially primary education, and health programmes, I think West Bengal is doing good, but it needs improvement,” Lori Calvo, chief of Unicef in West Bengal, told reporters here. He was releasing the organisation’s flagship publication ‘The State of the World’s Children 2012’ here.

“There is a lack of access to the services, especially of the children belonging to the urban poor families,” Calvo said.

Citing the recent data of the Urban Health Resource Centre, which stated that almost half of the urban poor children are underweight and the incidence of pneumonia is very high among the six to fifty-nine months old children in urban areas, compared to rural areas of the state, Calvo said there is an urgent need for good policies and programmes.

The issue of equity in terms of access of the poor urban children to the services should be addressed by everyone, including the government, she said.

She stated that to tackle the issues like crib deaths due to low-weight and malnutrition, a community based heath prevention programme was necessary along with Special New Born Care Units (SNCUs) at hospitals of the state.

According to Calvo, data related to urban poor children was lacking due to rapid urbanisation and migration.

In January this year, a total of 100 crib deaths were reported only from the state’s Malda district. The babies were aged between three hours to three months.

Between Oct 25 to 28 last year, 16 babies died at the B.C. Roy Children’s Hospital, the only children’s referral hospital in Kolkata. The Burdwan Medical College and Hospital reported 12 infant deaths Oct 27-28.