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In Karnataka's Chikkballapur, Nutritional Rehabilitation Centres Are Pulling Children Out Of Malnutrition

In Karnataka's Chikkballapur, Nutritional Rehabilitation Centres Are Pulling Children Out Of Malnutrition

According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations' ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2020' report, 189.2 million people are undernourished in India, which means 14 per cent of the population is undernourished in the country. Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2020 reported that India is home to 14 per cent undernourished children under the age of 5 and 34.7 per cent stunted (low height for age) children in the same age. According to the experts, the Coronavirus pandemic has added to India's malnutrition crisis. With schools and Anganwadi centres now closed, there is reduced access to mid-day meals and nutritious food that is essential for adequate growth. However, Nutritional Rehabilitation Centres (NRC) in Karnataka are fighting the double whammy of COVID-19 and malnutrition.

Nutritional Rehabilitation Centre in Karnataka's Chikkballapur was selected for the pilot project for treatment of children under 6 months of age with severe malnutrition. Talking to NDTV about the initiative, Dr Gayathri, Senior Paediatrician, District Hospital, Chikkballapur, Nutritional Rehabilitation Centre, said,

This district, Chikkballapura, has 6 per cent of severe wasting. For that, we have trained our ASHA workers, Anganwadi workers and grass roots health care workers. They are trained in identifying severe acute malnourished children.

ASHA workers and anganwadi workers screen children under 5 and bring those with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) to the Nutritional Rehabilitation Centre. The children are also admitted through OPD screening. At NRC, children are provided with nutritious food and parents are given training on hygiene and feeding practices. Ayesha, the mother of Rafiya, brought her child to the doctor for a regular check-up. On diagnosis, Rafiya was found to be underweight and was advised to be admitted to the hospital. Overtime, Rafiya's health improved and was discharged as a healthy baby. Talking about the kind of treatment provided to her daughter, Ayesha said,

The child was very weak when we came. The body weight was very low; she was always tired and was neither eating well nor drinking milk. They gave injections and meals on time, along with milk. They taught us how to cook the food and exactly at what time to give the food, how important it is to wash hands before preparing the food, holding the baby and to keep the child close. I have to do the same things once I go home.

The programme is supported by UNICEF that has provided technical support and conducted training with the support of the National and State centres of excellence. Standardised protocols for feeding and online reporting have been provided in Kannada and Telugu. There is also strong support from state departments.

This way, the Nutritional Rehabilitation Centre is giving malnourished children health and a better start in life.

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About The Partner

UNICEF India is committed in its continued support to the Government in this extraordinary journey of development to reach every child everywhere in India. Our goal is to enable every child born in India to have the best start in life, to thrive and to develop to her or his full potential. To achieve this we use our technical expertise together with partners to tackle the root of several, deeply entrenched structural challenges.  


UNICEF works to promote and protect the rights of children across India. We have spent 70 years in India working to improve the lives of children and their families. With some 450 staff members working in 17 states that together cover 90 per cent of India’s child population - largest field presence among UN agencies – we are well positioned to reach the country’s most vulnerable children.


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF has launched Reimagine – an urgent appeal to governments, the public, donors and the private sector to support UNICEF’s efforts to respond, recover and reimagine a world severely impacted by COVID-19. UNICEF India relies on the support and donations from businesses and individuals to sustain and expand health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education and child protection programmes for all girls and boys in India