In Bihar and Jharkhand, nine out of every 10 children aged 6-23 do not get an adequate diet. The nutrition and health status of children in these two States has been found to be “critically low” in comparison to the national standard.
According to NFHS-4, 2015-16 data, only 7.5% and 7.2% of children in Bihar and Jharkhand respectively in this age group receive an adequate diet, according to a trend analysis of the NFHS-4 data released by the NGO, Child Rights and You (CRY).
CRY’s findings indicate that inadequate provision of quality antenatal care, and the States’ failure to address the special nutritional requirements of expecting and lactating mothers are negatively affecting child health.
The NFHS-4 data on child-feeding practices and the nutritional status of children further suggest that almost two-thirds of children under the age of 3 years in these two States are not breastfed within the first hour of birth.
The analysis also observed that almost two-thirds of children (63.5% in Bihar and 69.9% in Jharkhand) aged 6-59 months were suffering from acute anaemia.
The prevalence of anaemia among a high percentage of pregnant women in the age-group of 15-49 years (62.6% in Jharkhand and 58.3% in Bihar) further indicates that juvenile anaemia is merely a manifestation of the malnutrition-cycle transmitted through generations, thereby extending the legacy of under-nutrition.
Further, the data on maternal health also revealed that only 9% of pregnant women in Bihar and 15% of pregnant women in Jharkhand consumed iron and folic acid supplements for hundred days or more during pregnancy.
On the positive side, both Bihar and Jharkhand have done well in several child health and nutrition indicators such as institutional delivery, immunisation, and treatment of critical childhood diseases.