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INDIA: Approximately 83 percent of the children are malnourished in eight villages, Rewa district, Madhya Pradesh

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is writing to draw your attention to the child malnutrition in Madhya Pradesh. According to the recent report received from Birsa Munda Bhu Adhikar Manch (Birsa Munda Forum for Land Rights) Rewa, MPLSSM and Right to Food Campaign Madhya Pradesh Support Group, about 83 percent of the children belonging to the tribal communities in eight villages in Rewa District are malnourished. The malnourished children in Rewa have been concealed by the Collector who said that there were no malnourished children in Rewa when a number of malnourished children were found out and died in Madhya Pradesh in 2008. Despite the fact that the villagers are deprived of their rights to food and work caused by lack of livelihood and the malfunction of government schemes, the state government as well as local administration have not taken any substantial action for those children and their families till now.

CASE DETAILS:

Deepak is losing his eyesight due to being malnourished. He is one of twenty three children malnourished in Ramgadhwa village, Java Block, Rewa District. Out of these children 14 children are moderately malnourished identified as grade I or grade II, whereas nine children are identified as severely malnourished.

The report covering eight villagers (Ramgadwa, Kuraily (or Koni), Mohaniya, Kalyanpur, Ramnagar, Kuthila, Harijanpur and Khaptiha) in Jawa Block discovers that 31.5% (23 children) are severely malnourished (grade III and IV) 51.8% (37 children) are moderately malnourished (grade I and II). In particular, Ramgadwa village and kalyanpur village face serious stage in child malnutrition. In Kalyanpur village, six out of seven children are severely malnourished while one is also identified as malnutrition of grade II.

Two primary heath institutes in the area aiming to ensure child health care and to treat malnourished children ─ Anganwadi (AWCs; child care centre at village level) and Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) ─ do not function well.

All these children are neither registered at the AWCs nor visited by workers or helpers working at the AWCs. The children belonging to the tribal communities such as Kol or Mawasi have been excluded by the government health care which is proved by the worker who said that not a single child suffers from malnutrition in the village. The AWC in the village is not far away from the tribal community the malnourished children belong to however there is a social and cultural exclusion against tribal community.

The primary role of workers at AWCs is to register all the children, to keep their records such as age, sex and weight, and to provide supplementary nutrition particularly earmarked for malnourished children in the village. Given the fact that the workers have nothing about these children and even denied the child malnutrition, the workers belonging to upper caste community have been allegedly disregarding the children from tribal community.

The Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) projected for the malnourished children with the support of the UNICEF also fails to get the malnourished children properly treated. Mr. Raghuvansh living in Ramnagar village, Java Block took his son Amar (one year old) to the NRC a month ago. Amar was sent back home twice from the NRC who asked Raghuvansh to wait for his turn.

The NRC which has started running since January 2008 is located in the Community Health Centre (CHC) in Java Block. It has merely 10 beds which is not sufficient to treat malnourished children identified in Java Block. In addition to the lack of facilities, there is neither pediatrician nor Auxiliary Nursing Mother (ANM) at the NRC. The malfunction of the NRC has been exposed by previous Hunger Alerts (please see AHRC-HAC-002-2009, AHRC-HAC-003-2009 and AHRC-HAC-004-2009) for the malnourished children in Khandwa District. On 30 September 2009, 36 children from 22 villages in Java Block were taken to the NRC however, only ten out of 36 were admitted and others were sent back.

The report also divulges big gaps between government records and the actual situation about child deaths. The official record by department of Public Health says that the numbers of infant deaths in 2009 (as of September) in Rewa district alone is 503 while in fact 1869 infants died. It reflects the fact that the government record fails to cover unregistered children, which can expand to the statistics on child mortality or malnutrition at national level.

Child death caused by malnutrition explains how the state fails to respect, protect and fulfill right to adequate food which is a fundamental right guaranteeing right to life. It is also an indicator for poverty. Since the Government of India ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in 1979, it has been continuously failing to follow its obligation as a state member. In addition, denial and cover-up of the government authority for child malnutrition are hindering to the authentic achievement of Millennium Development Goal on eradication of poverty.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write letters to the concerned authorities below urging them to provide appropriate treatment and nutritious food for the malnourished children in Rewa district. Please be noted that the public servants neglecting its duty and rather promoting child malnutrition should be punished before the law and justice.

The AHRC will also write a separate letter to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food as well as Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health requesting intervention into the issue.

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

Re: INDIA: Please ensure right to food and right to health to tribal children suffering from malnutrition

Children malnourished:
1. Deepak and other 22 children malnourished in Ramgadwa village, Java Block, Rewa District, Madhya Pradesh
2. Seven children malnourished in Kuraily (Koni) village, Java Block, Rewa District
3. Five children malnourished in Mohaniya village, Java Block, Rewa District
4. Seven children malnourished in Kalyanpur village, Java Block, Rewa District
5. Amar (one year old) and other 12 children malnourished in Ram nagar village, Java Block, Rewa District
6. Four children malnourished in Kuthila village, Java Block, Rewa District
7. Two children malnourished in Khaptiha village, Java Block, Rewa District
Government officials/department in charge of right to food and child health care:
1. Anganwadi Workers in Rewa District
2. Collector of Rewa District
3. Department of public health and family welfare
Place: Rewa District, Madhya Pradesh

I am writing to express my deep concern about malnourished children in Rewa district of Madhya Pradesh.

I have learned that Deepak belonging to tribal community residing in Ramgadhwa village, Java Block, Rewa District is losing his eyesight allegedly affected malnutrition. He is one of 23 children malnourished in Ramgadhwa village.

According to the report by Birsa Munda Bhu Adhikar Manch (Birsa Munda Forum for Land Rights) Rewa, MPLSSM and Right to Food Campaign Madhya Pradesh Support Group, 83 percent of the children in eight villages are discovered as malnourished and Deepak is one of them. I am informed that in Ramgadhwa village nine children are severely malnourished (grade III and IV) whereas 14 children are moderately malnourished (grade I and II).

The report covering eight villagers (Ramgadwa, Kuraily (or Koni), Mohaniya, Kalyanpur, Ramnagar, Kuthila, Harijanpur and Khaptiha) in Jawa Block discovers that 31.5% (23 children) are severely malnourished (grade III and IV) 51.8% (37 children) are moderately malnourished (grade I and II). In particular, Ramgadwa village and kalyanpur village face serious stage in child malnutrition. In Kalyanpur village, six out of seven children are severely malnourished while one is also identified as malnutrition of grade II.

I am surprised to learn that the malnourished children in Rewa have been concealed by Collector who said that there were no malnourished children in Rewa when a number of malnourished children were found out and died in Madhya Pradesh in 2008. I am in the opinion that this denial and cover-up is one of the reasons aggravating child malnutrition in this area.

The actual status quo of all these children discloses that two primary heath institutes aiming to ensure child health care and to treat malnourished children ─ Anganwadi (AWCs; child care centre at village level) and Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) ─ do not function well.

They are neither registered at the AWCs nor visited by worker or helper working at AWCs. The children belonging to the tribal communities such as Kol or Mawasi have been excluded by the government health care which is proved by the worker who said that not a single child suffers from malnutrition in the village. The AWC in Ramgadhwa village is not far away from their places however there is a social and cultural exclusion against tribal community causing non-accessibility to them.

I have studied that the primary role of workers at AWCs is to register all the children, to keep their records such as age, sex and weight, and to provide supplementary nutrition particularly earmarked for malnourished children in the village. Given the fact that the workers have nothing about these children and even denied the child malnutrition, the workers belonging to upper caste community have been allegedly disregarding the children from tribal community.

I have also learned that the Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) projected for the malnourished children with the support of the UNICEF also fails to get the malnourished children properly treated. Mr. Raghuvansh living in Ramnagar village, Java Block took his one year old son Amar identified as malnutrition grade III to the NRC. Amar however was sent back home twice from the NRC who asked Raghuvansh to wait for his turn.

I am informed that the NRC which has started running since January 2008 is located in the Community Health Centre (CHC) in Java Block. It has merely 10 beds which is not sufficient to treat malnourished children identified in Java Block. In addition to ill facilities, there is neither pediatrician nor Auxiliary Nursing Mother (ANM) at the NRC. On 30 September 2009, 36 children from 22 villages in Java Block were taken to the NRC however, only ten out of 36 were admitted and others were sent back. I am further informed that only four out of nine Blocks in Rewa have a NRC.

Malfunction of primary health institutions which should guarantee right to health has been also exposed by previous Hunger Alerts reported by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in Khandwa District. I am deeply concerned that how the right to food as well as right to health for the children in particular can be respected and fulfilled under this condition.

The neglect of the government can be also found in official report. The official record by department of Public Health says that the numbers of infant deaths in 2009 (as of September, 2009) in Rewa district alone is 503 while in fact 1869 infants died. It reflects the fact that the government record fails to cover unregistered children at AWCs, which can expand to the national statistics on child mortality or malnutrition.

I am in the opinion that child death caused by malnutrition explains how the state fails to respect, protect and fulfill right to adequate food which is a fundamental right guaranteeing right to life. Since the Government of India ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in 1979, it has been continuously failing to follow its obligation as a state member. In addition, denial and cover-up of the government authority for child malnutrition are hindering to the authentic achievement of Millennium Development Goal on eradication of poverty. The Government of India should be responsible for its negligence.

I look forward to your positive response and action for the malnourished children in Rewa.

Yours sincerely,

-------------------
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Krishna Tirath
Minister of Women and Child Development
Government of India
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 2331 4788
E-mail: krishnatirath@yahoo.in

2. Principal Secretary
Ministry of Health & Family Welfare
Nirman Bhavan
Maulana Azad Road
New Delhi - 110011
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 2306 1751
E-mail: hfm@alpha.nic.in

3. Mr. Shivraj Singh Chouhan
Chief Minister
Madhya Pradesh
INDIA
Fax: +91 755 2441781

4. R. C. Sahni
Chief Secretary
Government of Madhya Pradesh
Mantralaya,
Bhopal 462 004
Madhya Pradesh
INDIA
E-mail: cs@vallabh.mp.nic.in

5. M. Geetha
District Collector
Rewa District
Madhya Pradesh
INDIA
E-mail: dmrewa@mp.nic.in

6. Country Director
World Food Programme
2 Poorvi Marg, Vasant Vihar
New Delhi 110057
INDIA
Fax: +91 112 615 0019
E-mail: wfp.newdelhi@wfp.org

7. UNICEF
73 Lodi Estates
New Delhi 110 003
INDIA
Fax: + 91 11 2462 7521 / 11 2469 1410
E-mail: newdelhi@unicef.org

Thank you.

Huger Alert Programme(foodjustice@ahrc.asia)
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia

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