Mumbai: An NGO steps forward to tackle malnutrition

We assume that under nutrition is a rural problem in an underdeveloped settlement. But that doesn’t seem to be the reality anymore. A health NGO, ‘Doctors For You’ (DFY) has a set up in the slums of Mankhurd in Mumbai, specially that branches a ward only to tackle malnutrition

Mumbai: 50 per cent children are malnourished in Govandi, reveals survey

According to the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2016, India ranked 97 among 118 developing nations, 15.2% of Indians are undernourished and 38.7% of under-five children are stunted. In fact, India’s malnutrition problem is even worse than its neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and China. Malnutrition is a condition which occurs when there is a deficiency of certain vital nutrients in a person’s diet. Malnutrition is a serious issue and needed and immediate attention. Owing to which, a health NGO, Doctors For You (DFY) has a set up in the slums of Mankhurd, specially that branches a ward only to tackle malnutrition

Sayida Qureshi (name changed) is an 18 year-old girl staying in Lallubhai compound in Mankhurd. She has only one problem with which she comes to the clinic in the slum area. Lethargy is her only problem. The doctors however were startled by her severe under-nourishment.

She weighs 28 kgs. Yes, an 18 year old who weighs only 28 kgs.  Malnutrition is not an unknown complaint in the area. “We opened an OPD for malnutrition because we know it is a severe problem in the region,” said Dr Priyanka Manghani, a public health researcher and in-charge at the centre.

The organisation sends doctors to go from house to house in the slum to collect data and distribute food items and powders to tackle the problem of malnutrition. Out of 300 houses covered, 117 children, between the age group of 0-6 years suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM). This was the data collected from April to August this year.

“The problem of undernourishment is not a new found problem. However, we try and work very closely with each family here. The OPD is specifically for the kids. Very few organizations work for the slum, we are one of them,” said Dr Amit Kumar Nohwar, cofounder of ‘Doctors For You’ (DFY), Mumbai Project.

India still has about 97 million moderately to severely underweight children as seen in 2016. While the incidence of underweight children is below 1% in 29 countries, it was high in south Asia and the highest in India. One in five girls and one in three boys in India were moderately or severely underweight in 2016, revealed a study last week.

A study that was led by the Imperial College in London and the World Health Organization (WHO) was published in the Lancet journal last week reported that the prevalence of moderate and severely underweight children in India is among the highest in the world.

The worrisome factor is that nutrition and quality of nutrition. “Obesity as well as undernourishment is a matter of quantitative and qualitative nutritive content in the food we eat. This means, quality of food is as important as its access and availability,” said Dr Ramen Goel, Senior Bariatric Surgeon, Director, Centre of Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery, Wockhardt Hospitals.