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Maharashtra to rope in private hospitals to tackle malnutrition

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In the wake of deaths of children allegedly due to malnutrition, Maharashtra government has roped in private hospitals to check such instances, specially in Palghar district, state Health Minister Deepak Sawant said on Wednesday.

Under the move, private hospitals and teams of experts from Mumbai and Thane will visit the hospitals in neighbouring Palghar that reported deaths of infants and children recently due to malnutrition, Sawant told PTI.

Such hospitals have been finalised, while those in other tribal-dominated regions like Amravati and other parts of Vidarbha are being discussed at ministerial level, he added.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had last week issued a notice to Maharashtra government, giving it four weeks time to submit a report on deaths of children allegedly due to malnutrition in Palghar.

The NHRC had taken suo motu cognisance of media reports which stated that 600 children have died allegedly due to malnutrition in Palghar this year.

The deaths triggered outcry with state Tribal Development Minister Vishnu Savara receiving flak for his reported insensitive remarks over some deaths of children recently.

Meanwhile, Sawant said the team from private hospitals will visit the identified villages twice a week to and conduct thorough check ups, while guiding pregnant women and malnourished children about food habits and other preventive measures.

“At present, hospitals from Mumbai and Thane have been selected and details of malnutrition-hit tehsils are shared with the hospital management. The government will bear expenses of medicines and ensure food grain supply,” he said.

“Hospitals from across the state are yet to be finalised as we have specific requirement for malnourished children and women. We need expert staff with sufficient experience to be sent to remote villages for routine check-ups,” the minister said.

A gynaecologist and a paediatrician will visit the villages, where state machinery through its network will identify pregnant women and malnourished children. After check up, they will prescribe medicines, sensitise people about food habits and required changes in their lifestyle, he said.
Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children, Jaslok

hospital, Global hospitals, Surya Mother and Child care and P D Hinduja National hospital and Medical Centre are some of the hospitals that have been roped in for Palghar, Sawant said.

Mumbai’s KEM Hospital is already working on the same issue in Palghar district.

Tehsils like Mokhada, Wada, Vikramgad, Javhar, Talasari and Dahanu in Palghar will be brought under the private hospital scheme, he said, adding that allocation of tehsils to particular hospital will be done in a couple of days.

After Palghar, teams from private hospital will also be sent to the identified hospitals in other districts, specially in the tribal dominated ones, he said.

“Most of the children who died in Palghar came from very poor families. Adults worked as labourers, while some even migrate to other districts as contract labour, who generally does not get work orders during monsoon season. It reduces their income and the direct impact is on the pregnant woman who could not afford full meal require. Hence, many babies bear malnourishment,” Sawant said.

He said the authorities concerned have been directed to initiate fresh survey for issuance of new ration cards to families who do not have one.

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