Bhopal: Malnourished children, pregnant women and lactating mothers are among the worst affected due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown in Madhya Pradesh, a survey claims.
The survey report claimed that these affected categories did not get proper nutrition due to the effect of COVID-19 pandemic and their calorie intake drastically decreased. Among pregnant women, it reduced by 67% (2,157), while 68% (2,334) in lactating mothers and by 51% (633) among children.
The survey was conducted by Bhopal-based NGO Vikas Samvad in 122 villages of six districts of Madhya Pradesh -- Panna, Rewa, Satna, Niwari, Umariya and Shivpuri -- between March 25 to May 10. Besides, the NGO also conducted a survey on the eating habits of 33 families for around 45 days of lockdown.
Owing to the closure of anganwadi centres, primary schools, the minors including malnourished children have suffered most. Nearly 35% of the families did not get Take Home Ration (THR), 38% families received only 2 packets, while only, in 20%t villages, malnourished children were provided with supplemental nutrition and THR packets.
The state and union government had suggested distributing THR in the villages after the closure of the anganwadis and primary schools to children in the wake of COVID-19 lockdown.
Talking about the COVID-19 threat among the malnourished children, Sachin Jain of Vikas Samvad said, “The threat is high. The immunity of malnourished children is weak and the state government failed to provide food to the children after the closure of anganwadis and primary schools.”
It’s worth mentioning that MP is among the states with the highest number of malnutrition cases. “If COVID-19 cases reach among tribals or malnourished villages, the situation may turn ugly,” said Jain.
The survey stated, “THR distribution services were partially affected in 50% of the villages due to delay in receiving allotment, unavailability of THR stocks, closure of anganwadi centres to prevent corona spread etc. THR was well distributed in 26% villages by Asha Workers to the beneficiaries’ home with the support of the anganwadi helpers.”
In about half of the villages growth monitoring of malnourished children has completely stopped and in almost all the anganwadis of half of the villages, management and identification of MAM (Moderately Acute Malnourished) and SAM (Severe Acute Malnourished) children has come to a halt, according to the survey.
As per the government orders followed, 85% AWCs have completely stopped providing HCMs (Hot Cooked Meal) whereas in 15% villages from Panna, Satna, Shivpuri, the HCM was stopped by centres themselves in the event of COVID-19. About 26% have not received any orders but were directed via WhatsApp message, verbal communication, or text messages.
About 53% of the anganwadi centres in the surveyed villages have remained unaffected by the lockdown and anganwadi workers were found to have been doing regular nutrition counselling visits starting from the second week of April, as per the survey.
On the other hand, Anganwadi workers from 40% of the villages have completely stopped doing home visits in the wake of COVID-19 lockdown. They were directed either verbally over the phone or through WhatsApp messages.