February 7, 2017 01:20 AM NPT
By: Bira Gadal
Children in the district's remote area are mostly victims of malnouirshment
BAITADI, Feb 7: Five-year-old daughter of Muna Dhami, a resident of Chaukham VDC - 9 died yesterday night around 10 pm. She weighed just five kg. According to the mother, she was taken to Dadelhdura for treatment after she begun to show worrying signs during the last few days. But there also the hospital recommended that she should be taken to other hospital with better facilities. The family could not afford cost to do so, and the child succumbed, the mother said.
The hospital had asked Muna to rush her daughter to Dhangadi and admit her to Nutrition Rehabilitation Center. Muna's other three children do not look that healthy either, she says. But this very child was extremely underweight since her birth. “Doctors told me that she was born malnourished because the food I ate during my pregnancy was did not provide nourishment to the fetus,” reported Muna.
Muna's husband is works in India. But he does not send money home. “He is a labor in India, he cannot work very hard because his own health is not very robust,” said Muna.
Her story is actually common in the village. Sight of children who apparently look malnourished is not rare. She has seen many children die untimely in her locality. “We are so poor that we cannot provide even enough food to our children. When they get sick, we cannot provide medicines and they die,” she said, sounding causal.
Kalawati Dhami of Chaukam VDC - 8 also has similar views. She is also among the extremely worried mom in the locality because her two-year-old child weighs just eight kg. “They say one year old child must be nine kg, but my child is already two and is not over eight kg. We are worried for the child,” said Kalawati adding that she does not know how to treat her.
Meena Dhami's one-year-old child also weighs just seven kg. Like her neighbor Kalawati, she too is worried for her child. “He falls sick every now and then. It has been very tough to take care of him,” she lamented adding her family has not been able to provide nutritious food to the kid.
District Health Office (DHO) states that 3.7 percent of children below five years in the district are severely malnourished. There are 23,891 children of this age group in the district.
According to Meena, none of the children of her extended family, relatives or neighbors look very healthy. They mostly suffer from cold, cough, and dysentery. “Every summer and winter, we have hard time taking care of them,” she said.
DHO reports that children of remote areas - ward number 7, 8 and 9 of Chaukam VDC are mostly malnourished. Narendra Bahadur Chand, a resident of Chaukham - 7 stated that negligence of maternity health is one of the major factors behind the sorry health state of both children and mothers in these remote areas.
“Baitadi itself is a backward district in terms of health facilities. If you go to remote places here, you will see many malnourished children,” he said. “People do not have means to feed their children well and even if they can afford, lack awareness about the nutritional needs of their wards, affects their children health,” he added.
Kalawati, Chand's neighbor thinks that even middle class families are failing to save their children from being malnourished. She stressed that the government must launch massive campaign to sensitize people over the issue. “There are a lot of things women must take care of for their own and their children's health. When we don't have such knowledge we are vulnerable to health diseases irrespective of our economic condition,” she remarked.
Kalawati who had recently attended a health camp stated that she got to learn such things from there. “Or else, I would have never learned the importance of nutrition,” she said.
It is not that the government has not done anything against malnourishment. Following the poor state of children's health in its studies, DHO introduced several programs including admission of severely malnourished children in separate wards. 12 health facilities across the district have separate wards for treating malnourished children. The government provides treatment free treatment at these facilities.
However, locals say that such efforts won't be effective until the main culprits - poverty and ignorance- are addressed. “It is due to poverty that we cannot have good life, good food. That triggers several other problems,” Meena said. She added that the poor communities need more serious interventions.
Harish Rokaya of Thaladanda - 8 maintained that children in his village never get enough food. As the poor people have too many children, they are not able to manage sufficient quantity of meal for them, he reported. “Problem is grave. It's not easy to fix it until the government understands the graveness of the situation and takes appropriate measures,” he said.