Over 60% children in Meghalaya malnourished

SHILLONG: Around 64.4 per cent of the children in the state are suffering from malnutrition while 47.2 per cent of the women are anaemic. This was revealed in a heath camp organized by the Martin Luther Christian University (MLCU) in Moodymmai village under Thadlaskein block in the Jaintia Hills district.

The camp was organized with an aim to reach out to rural communities and extend the university's awareness programme to the marginalized sections of society.

"The number of women suffering from anaemia and malnourished children is very high in Meghalaya. The government and society need to come together and formulate ways to tackle these problems," a camp instructor said, citing official figures.

"Through experiential learning, university students of the department of allied health sciences are working to address these health issues by engaging each and every individual who come to the health camp," said the head of the department, allied health sciences, MLCU, Rennie Lakadong.

The objective of conducting these health camps is to impress upon people the importance of healthy practices, providing general healthcare services, one-on-one counseling on basic healthcare and hygiene and assessing the health and nutritional status of children, pregnant and lactating mothers, explained Lakadong. "The health camps also provide hands-on experience to students in rural healthcare," he added.

A total of 336 people attended the camp, including 143 schoolchildren. The most common diagnoses were nutritional anaemia, dental caries, cataract, allergic conjunctivitis and refractive errors.

Last year, the Meghalaya government had decided to conduct a research to understand the reasons for the high prevalence of anaemia in the state. "It was found that many women died after childbirth due to lack of blood. This is also one of the reasons for the increase in the maternal mortality rate in the state," a health official said.

Meanwhile, MLCU students, with the help of government medical doctors, are going to cover 10 schools and four Anganwadis centres over the next few months.