Malnutrition stalks quake-hit kids

- Harihar Singh Rathour, DHADING

Jul 30, 2015-

Children belonging to Chepang and Tamang communities in the district are suffering from severe malnutrition after the April 25 earthquake, a government study has shown.

The study showed that the number of severely malnourished children in the district stands at 78 for the year ending April 2015, an increase from 41 for the same period last year.

Nepal Prabidhik Sahayogi Samuha was tasked with the research by the Ministry of Health and Population and Unicef.

Along with district headquarters Dhading Besi, out patient departments had been set up in Salyantar, Gajuri, Naubise, Sunaula Bazar, Katunje, Darkha, Maidi and Mahadevsthan to check the nutritional condition of children.

The group surveyed 747 children of 40 VDCs in the district and found that 78 among them were severely malnourished while a further 126 suffered from mild malnutrition. The most undernourished children come from Chepang village of Dhusha VDC and Tamang village of Setrung VDC with 25 and 11 children respectively, according to the study.

Nepal ranks among one of the worst performers in the world in malnutrition rates. According to World Food Programme, 41 percent of children under five are stunted, 29 percent are underweight and 11 percent are emaciated.

“As special attention was not paid to child-centred relief after the earthquake, their poor diet has resulted in the dismal figures,” chief of District Health Office Jiwan Malla said.

Despite relief pouring into the district from several organisations, nutritional requirements of children has not been met, he added.

District coordinator of Nutrition Programme Dhiraj Adhikari said that the severely malnourished children were provided with healthcare while the mildly malnourished were given nutritional supplements.

Further, mothers were trained on making nutritious food and pregnant women were given health suggestions, he added.

New mothers, babies face brunt

Sudip Kaini (Gorkha)

Postpartum mothers along with their newborns suffer the most at the temporary shelters they live in following the devastating April 25 earthquake. On  sunny days, the heat is unbearable inside the tin-roof structure and during rainfall the settlement is flooded.

Srijana Shrestha, 25, of Patechaur, has been living under a makeshift structure after her house was destroyed in the earthquake. After delivering a baby, Srijana went to her maternal home for a few days before returning to her temporary shelter. Both the mother and the child then fell ill. “Both of us do not feel well because of the extreme heat and cold conditions under the temporary structures,” she said.

Srijana’s father-in-law Som Prasad reiterated that they are living under temporary structures built with galvanized zinc plates. “We will somehow adjust but our daughter and her kid are in dismal condition,” said Som Prasad, adding that insect bites make the situation worse.

The family is waiting for government assistance to build a new house. “We no longer can endure such hardship. I’m planning on constructing a decent shelter once the government provides assistance,” he said. A number of postpartum and pregnant women in various places in the district are, likewise, falling ill due to the adverse weather conditions and mosquito bites while living in make-shift shelters.

Locals in the district have also been affected by landslides in several road sections triggered by incessant rainfall in the district.

Children, elderly citizens, pregnant and postpartum women stay under temporary makeshifts and tents in several quake-hit areas. We have been left in lurch as the government does not pay attention to us, they complained.

Published: 30-07-2015 07:56

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