As many as 775 children and eight pregnant women, enrolled in the
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme of the Delhi
government under which nutritious food and health facilities are
provided to underprivileged women and children, died last year, a
RTI reply says.
In a reply to an application under the Right to Information (RTI)
Act filed by child rights activist Manish Bhatnagar, an ICDS
official said: "According to record, the number of children
enrolled in ICDS scheme who died in Delhi last year was 775."
Eight pregnant women enrolled also died last year.
The ICDS scheme is a pilot project of the Delhi government's women
and child development department with an aim to improve
nutritional and health status of children below six years and
reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity and malnutrition.
"In 2009, seven pregnant women and 882 children enrolled with the
ICDS died," the official said.
Women and child development department director Rajiv Kale told
IANS: "The mortality rate is not so high. We are covering
approximately 727,000 children and only around one percent of them
Bhatnagar said: "The reason behind the deaths is yet unknown.
However, the number of deaths is alarming as the scheme provides
health facilities and food to children who are economically
deprived in Delhi."
Said NGO Centre for Social Research director Ranjana Kumari: "The
death figure is high. A total of 775 kids died in Delhi in 365
days. It is a matter of concern."
"There is need for serious investigation into the circumstances
under which the deaths took place. People responsible for this
must be punished and the government should be accountable,"
Ranjana Kumari told IANS.
Currently, 55 projects are functioning under the ICDS in various
parts of Delhi, covering approximately 727,000 children up to the
age of six as well as pregnant and nursing mothers.
In addition, supplementary nutrition is being provided under the
scheme to 648,000 children and women through 6,606 anganwadi
Supplementary nutrition is provided at the rate of Rs.5 per child,
Rs.5.30 per woman and Rs.6 per malnourished child per day for
about 300 days in a year.
In partnership with the Delhi Social Welfare Board and
non-government organisations, 60 anganwadi centres are also
Six services -- non-formal pre-school education, supplementary
nutrition and health education, immunisation, health check-up and
referral services -- are being provided to the beneficiaries
covered under these centres.
The ICDS services were started in India with 33 projects all over
the country Oct 2, 1975. It was launched in response to the
challenge of meeting the holistic need of the child.
Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)