Lack of livelihoods, coupled with unavailability of wholesome nutrition due to limited range of agriculture has contributed to a high level of undernutrition in children from the tribal community.
Mumbai, the capital city of Maharashtra is home to millions of people living in various slum pockets. Typically characterized by poor access to clean water, lack of food and proper nutrition and poor health and hygiene, children in most Mumbai slums suffer from malnutrition.
Govandi, located in eastern Mumbai, is comprised of migrant and daily-wage labourers. With illiteracy and no job security, these labourers often do not recognize the symptoms of malnutrition in their children. Even in the most extreme cases, for fear of losing out on a day’s pay, parents often do not pay attention to children, leaving them to face the risk of the worst kind of malnutrition. During the monsoons, thousands of children here suffer from Diarrhea, dysentery or cholera, owning to dirty water and unhygienic living conditions.
An analysis of malnutrition among children under five in the shanty-town revealed staggering levels of stunting as high as 51% highlighting that every alternate child either has a low height for his/ her age or a low weight for his/her height. If left untreated, there will soon emerge a whole generation with the physical and mental symptoms of malnutrition: a huge risk to India’s economic growth and development.
Action Against Hunger conducted a nutrition survey in Govandi in 2015 in order to assess the levels of malnutrition in children under five years of age. The results were staggering with levels of wasting as high as 22.9%. One in every four children has low weight for his height, while every other child has low height for his age.
Poor maternal health, a high prevalence of infections resulting from proximity to the largest dumping yard in the country and lack of sufficient knowledge on child feeding practices are also some of the key factors contributing to high rate of under nutrition among children in Govandi.
To combat this situation, Action Against Hunger started a program in the 3 slum pockets of Umerkhadi, Sathe Nagar and Transit camp, implementing a Community Based management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) project in July 2016.
The project has two broad categories
Children who are critical and have a medical condition are referred for in patient treatment in hospitals, while children who are severely malnourished but without any complications are treated in our in-house Outpatient Treatment Centres (OTP).
Action Against Hunger has established 2 such OTP centres in Govandi, fully functional with doctors, nurses and counselors, who screen children and pregnant mothers and provide appropriate treatment.
The 1000 days approach aims to break the cycle of under-nutrition wherein an undernourished mother is susceptible to giving birth to under nourished children. Ensuring that pregnant mothers receive good maternal nutrition and medical care, results in healthy babies, growing up to be healthy adults.
In May 2018 we launched the “1000 days of life” project which involves reaching out to pregnant mothers and working with them through the entire cycle of pregnancy care, delivery, nursing to the child turning 2 years old.
As of May 2018, we have reached out to a population of over 52,000 and have enrolled 590 children in our malnutrition treatment program.