The HC, underscored the seriousness of the issue, as deaths of children due to malnutrition continues in the tribal region and directed the state to hold core committee meetings to assess the problems.
The HC was hearing a bunch of PILs alleging lack of facilities in tribal areas resulting in death of children due to malnutrition.
Activist Purnima Upadhaya, a petitioner who highlighted the troubles of tribal kids in Melghat, told the court that there were no gnaecologists and paediatricians in Melghat. Children remained malnourished and get no medical attention, she said. She said that in the last five months, 123 children died of malnutrition in two blocks of Melghat and 113 children died in 12 blocks of Amravati.
The committee appointed pursuant to earlier court orders has not met since March the court was told. It was meant to meet once every month. The HC directed the committee to meet within four weeks now. The Chief Secretary is on the committee. But his preoccupation cannot prevent the meeting, the court said and directed the health secretary to convene in the Chief secretary's absence.
The HC also asked the government to file an Action Taken Report (ATR) by November 18.
"We are surprised by the fact that there is no effort to address the preventive aspects of under nutrition by the department of health or that of women and child development. "It is a matter of great shame that 70 per cent of women and girls continue to be anaemic, as a result, more vulnerable and at high risk during pregnancy and delivery," the petitioner said. The state has made no effort to educate girls and women, the court was told. All that was done was distribution of iron tablets and some posters.
"While there are lots of resources flowing into the health systems through National Rural Health Mission the permanent structures and human resources seems to be a constant challenge in most of the areas. A course correction is highly essential or else crores of rupees will go waste," Upadhaya said.
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