Stopping Muzaffarpur Child Deaths Will Require a Gender-Sensitive Social Analysis -Purnima Menon
Due to its social determinants of malnutrition, Muzaffarpur offers a case study of a “perfect storm” of risk factors.
Muzaffarpur is emblematic of a hot spot for undernutrition in India. With one in two children stunted, Muzaffarpur lags India’s average by ten percentage points. One in two women is anaemic and one in three is underweight. Although most infants are breastfed and exclusive breastfeeding is high, other aspects of infant diets are abysmal and childhood illness is high. Other social determinants of malnutrition – early marriage, poverty, open defecation and more – offer a case study in what one could call a “perfect storm” of risk factors.
Children here appear to be born and grow up malnourished. This fact, and that some of these children and their families pay a deeper price of a life snuffed out, should be a wake-up call that society continues to allow such inequities to be heaped upon children.
In this cluster of risk factors that contribute to rampant undernutrition, the additional stress imposed on the most vulnerable families has pushed many susceptible children over the edge this year. Unfortunately, the added vulnerability of the season wasn’t a surprise nor this is the first time that so many children have died in this area.
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