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Year : 2005  |  Volume : 49  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 198-206

Managing child malnutrition in a drought affected district of Rajasthan - A case study

1 Chief, UNICEF Rajasthan Field Office
2 Project Officer (Child Development & Nutrition), UNICEF Rajasthan Field Office

Correspondence Address:
S Kumar
Chief, UNICEF Rajasthan Field Office

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 16479898

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Rajasthan is the largest state in the country frequently affected by droughts. The year 2002 happened to be the fifth consecutive year of drought. Almost all districts of the State were hit by it. The district of Baran located in South-East of Rajasthan has 'Sahariya' tribal population concentrated in its Kishanganj and Shahabad blocks. Press reports of starvation deaths amongst tribal children in these blocks created a stir in the local district and the State Government set ups. The paper describes an objective and professional approach to deal with the situation. Rapid nutritional assessment indicated very high prevalence of severe under weight (28.3%) and wasting (4.7%) amongst under five children. Nutrition Care Centres (NCC) were set up in selected villages to provide targeted feeding and care to these children as per WHO guidelines. Local 'Sahariya' community was involved to run these NCC. Intensive public education campaign was carried out to promote improved child caring practices and referral of malnourished children with complication to hospitals. Orientation of press and electronic media on factual details regarding the situation helped create an enabling environment to implement remedial measures. The impact of 'Nutrition Care Centres' assessed after six months was found to be positive in terms of reduction in prevalence of under nutrition in children from 66.7% to 59.6%. Successful management of severe malnutrition amongst children by workers at Nutrition Care Centes and in family settings using standard protocols led to the wide scale replication of the approach by Anganwadi centres in different district of Rajasthan. The State Government also created an additional cadre of worker called 'Sahayogini' to support Anganwadi worker and promote better child caring practices at family level.

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