Govt to supply milk in schools to check malnutrition
Manu Aiyappa, TNN
BANGALORE: Karnataka is set to launch another ambitious scheme to prevent malnutrition and its resultant health problems among pre-school children aged between three and six years.
The children will be provided with milk in addition to supplementary nutrition at anganwadi centres to help them fight malnutrition and grow healthy,'' chief minister Siddaramaiah said. Siddaramaiah will announce the new scheme in his budget speech.
The woman and child welfare department, which has been entrusted with the task to implement the scheme, is gearing up to implement it. The children enrolled in Integrated Child Development Scheme and attend Anganwadi centres will be provided with 200 ml boiled milk supplied by KMF every two days.
The milk scheme is being implemented mainly tackle the problem of malnutrition and ensuring that extra milk available with the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) promoters of Nandini brand milk is consumed by those in need rather than converting it into milk powder.
Though the government had taken the steps to implement the scheme last month, it was delayed because of technical reasons.
But things have been sorted out now and we are egaring to implement the scheme,'' saidwomen and child welfare minister Umashree.
Animal husbandry Officials said the government may need about Rs 400 to Rs 500 crore for the scheme and it will possibly be earmarked in the budget to be presented on July 12.
At present, they said 50 lakh litres of milk is produced daily in the state, and this may go up to 60 lakh litres soon. The new scheme will facilitate in utilizing the excess 30 lakh liters milk produced.
But the major reason why the government has taken initiative is to check child malnutrition in the state, which is growing by the day specifically in Raichur district. Quite alarmingly, data collected by women and child welfare department suggest that between April 2009 to August 2011, 2689 malnourished children have died in the district of Raichur alone, and 4531 children are suffering from severe malnutrition.
Malnutrition has been the underlying cause of deaths of children under five years in the state since 2008. Even if it does not lead to death, malnutrition, including micronutrient deficiencies, often leads to permanent damage, including impairment of physical growth and mental development, '' G R Hiremath, a social activist fighting for the cause in Raichur.