The health condition of women and children in Meghalaya is worrisome with a large number of this population being malnourished, a National health report has revealed.
According to Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) report 2015, Meghalaya has some of the highest number of ‘stunting, wasting and underweight’ children in the age group of 0 to 5 years.
A child is defined as stunting when it has inadequate height for age. Wasting on the other hand is inadequate weight for height. Underweight is defined as a child having indicators of both stunting and wasting traits.
In the study it has been found that although Meghalaya’s share in the national population is just 0.2 per cent, its share in the total number of stunted children (0 to 5 years) in the country is 1.9 per cent.
Its share in the total number of wasted children in India, in the same age group, is 2.5 per cent. In other words, one in 40 children is wasting.
In fact, during 2014 to 2015, the number of stunting children in Meghalaya has risen from 42.9 per cent to 43.8 per cent. In the same period, the number of wasting children has risen from 13.1 per cent to 15.3 per cent.
As for underweight children, Meghalaya’s total share in India’s total of such children is 1.9 per cent. This translates to 1 in 53 children in the State being underweight.
When it came to anemic women and adolescent girls, whopping 56.2 percent women in the age group of 15-49 years were anemic. Also 46.5 per cent adolescent girls in the age group of 15 to 19 years were found to be anemic.
Some of the reasons for these poor health conditions includes just 23.5 per cent of the mothers has full antenatal care. Fifty per cent had four antenatal care visits during their pregnancy. Only 53 per cent had their antenatal check-ups in the first three months of their pregnancy.
Moreover, just 36.2 per cent of expecting mothers consumed iron folic acid for 100 days or more. On the other hand, just 51.4 per cent had institutional deliveries.
It has also been found that only 42.3 per cent of the women were given advice on the importance of breastfeeding. A mere 25.3 per cent were advised on nutrition and 23.8 per cent on the importance of institutional delivery.
Worryingly, in terms of training of health workers, only 30.9 per cent of the Anganwadi workers had correct knowledge of intake of food by pregnant women. On health service delivery, there is one ASHA worker per 379 persons in the rural areas of the State.
‘The State expenditure on schemes delivering nutrition-specific interventions is woefully low as compared to the national average,’ Neha Raykar of PHFI said.
The report was published in December last year and it is being circulated to each State of the country by the organisation.