Kids walk the govt talk, dig out key stats
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Unfazed by the humidity and muddy paths, 14-year-old Nisha and a group of children walked up to the verandah of a kutcha house in Deshottar village in Sabarkantha district's Idar taluka this Friday morning and measured a two-year-old boy's left forearm using one of UNICEF's colour-coded Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) tapes, noted down what the boy's mother said she fed him, how much and how many times each day, and collected a sample of the family's drinking water in a small bottle for further tests.
The children moved on to the next house to draw up a data of malnourishment and aid in securing the future health of their village toddlers.
The survey of children aged between 1 to 5 years at Deshottar is one among hundreds of others being conducted by children's groups and volunteer development activists at village-level and overseen by a consortium of eight child rights groups in 760 villages across four districts.
Recently, Chief Minister Narendra Modi kicked up an inadvertent debate when he said in an interview to the Wall Street Journal that Gujarat's middle-class was more beauty-conscious than health-conscious, to a question on what he was doing to check malnourishment. "If a mother tells her daughter to have milk, they'll have a fight. She'll tell her mother, 'I won't drink milk. I'll get fat'," Modi said.
Though this survey has nothing to do with Modi's comment, it intends to pressurise politicians to talk about malnourishment in the forthcoming Assembly elections.
Nisha and her team had surveyed 23 children and two children's measurements showed yellow on the MUAC tape, or between 115 mm to 125 mm, meaning the child is most likely malnourished and is very close to the 115 mm cut-off; children with forearms smaller than 115 mm suffer from severe acute malnutrition, according to UNICEF guide.
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