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The findings of the third National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) reveals an unacceptable prevalence of malnutrition in our children:
•    42.5% of our children under the age of five years are underweight (low weight for age)
•    48 % of our children are stunted (low height for age – chronically malnourished)
•    19.8 % of our children are wasted (low weight for height – acutely malnourished)
•    In poorer states the situation is even worse with over 50 % of children underweight
•    Malnutrition is the underlying cause of at least 50 per cent of deaths of children under five. Even if it does not lead to death, malnutrition, including micronutrient deficiencies, often leads to permanent damage, including impairment of physical growth and mental development. For example, iron, folic acid and iodine deficiencies can lead to brain damage, neural tube defects in the newborn and mental retardation.

The numbers in Karnataka look dismal. According to the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3), infant mortality rate at a national level is 45 per 1000 live births. It stands at 50 in rural and 33 in urban areas. Infant mortality rate in Karnataka, at 55 per 1000 live births, is above the nation’s average. The issue is more serious in North Karnataka. The statistics in the individual districts reflect the seriousness of this problem: Bidar – 66, Bijapur – 67, Dharwad – 69, Gadag – 66, Gulbarga – 67, Haveri – 66 and Koppal 65 per new born 1000 children.

As per the Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) of Raichur District, 811 children died in 2009, 1,233 children in 2010 and 645 children from January to August, 2011. In all, a total of 2,689 children died in the span of 2 years and 8 months. The department has conceded that these deaths were due to malnutrition and there were 4,531 severely malnourished children at Raichur district at that time.

The issue of malnourishment and infant mortality is sadly not limited only to Raichur. It is rampant across the state. There are several districts which have more under nourished children than Raichur including Bagalkote at 8,957; Bijapur at 8,953, Belgaum 7,016, Bellary 6,411, Haveri 4,537 and Koppal has 4,085 severely malnourished children.


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