Appoint docs in tribal areas to stop malnutrition deaths: HC

Taking a serious note of the death of children due to malnutrition in Melghat region of Maharashtra, the Bombay High Court directed the state government to appoint women and child specialists there immediately.

It also asked the state to hold a meeting of the core committee which was set up to assess the issues of tribal areas.

The court was informed by activist Purnima Upadhaya that there were no gynaecologists and paediatricians in Melghat region as a result of which the malnourished children did not get medical attention.

She claimed that in the last five months, 123 children died of malnutrition in 2 blocks of Melghat and another 113 in 12 blocks of Amravati.

Upadhaya, one of the petitioners, informed that the core panel, which was appointed by the court to meet once a month to discuss tribal issues, has not met since March.

To this, justices V M Kanade and P D Kode ordered the government to hold the meeting of the core committee within four weeks.

If the chief secretary could not convene this meeting due to preoccupation with some other work, then the secretary of the Health Minister should convene this meeting, the bench said.

The HC also asked the government to file an Action Taken Report (ATR) on November 18.

Upadhaya also said that earlier orders of the court to improve the quality of life in tribal areas and such other issues had not been implemented by the government.

“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.