After reports of low-grade food being supplied by women and child development dept, state public health minister pledges Rs 1,000 per child per month for quality food, and more

Perturbed by reports of malnourished children in anganwadis, the public health department has decided to lend a helping hand to the state women and child development department.

The health department will go beyond simply offering medical services for children. It has offered to supplement the food budget of each child by Rs 1,000, besides offering the services of specialty hospitals for them. "The department will spend Rs 1,000 per month per child on food items, besides making available beds in super specialty hospitals for those with acute malnourishment," Public Health Minister Suresh Shetty said.

The initiative comes in the backdrop of reports of substandard food being supplied under the Take Home Ration (THR) scheme. The health department is operating Village Child Development Camps (VCDCs) and Child Development Camps (CDCs) for children suffering from moderate and severe malnutrition respectively. "If a child is afflicted with acute malnutrition, he will be admitted in the super specialty hospitals at major cities across the state," Shetty said.

"For the year 2011-12, a budget of Rs 23.52 crore has been proposed for the purpose. And up to August this year, 4,797 VCDCs and 48 CDCs have been functioning," he said adding, "In VCDC, a child is given a nutrient-rich diet seven times a day, and at CDCs, every two hours."

Meanwhile, as reported by MiD DAY, employees of state-run anganwadis protested at the offices of the Integrated Child Development Scheme in Navi Mumbai last Tuesday. The agitated workers held up food packets, supplied for children as THR, that allegedly had fungus and termites in it.

Secretary of Women and Child Development department, Vandana Krishna issued an appeal to the parents of the beneficiaries of the THR to collect the food packets from anganwadis nearby. "The quality of food in the packets may deteriorate if they remain stocked during the period of monsoon," she explained. "I appeal to parents to ensure that children consume the ration after it has been cooked in water or milk," she said.
Interestingly, she has advised parents to use sugar and jaggery to cook the food.