Saturday, February 20, 2010

Indian children still deprived of basic needs

India has 375 million children, more than any other country in the world. 360 million people, about 36 per cent of the population (1999-2000 statistics) are living below the poverty line, though the government's latest estimates put this figure at 26 per cent. 

It is estimated that women and children account for 73 per cent of those below the poverty line.  More than 75 million children continue to suffer from malnutrition because of equitable distribution system and the withdrawal of the public distribution system.
The Fifth Five Year Plan (1974-79) saw  the government's focus was on child welfare through the promotion of basic minimum services for children after the launch of the Integrated Child Development Services, 1975.
As against 18.9 million in 1997, the ICDS in 1999-2000 reached approximately 26.5 million children below the age of six. Of these, nearly 12.7 million children, between the ages of three and six, participate in centre-based pre-school educational activities (Annual Report, DWCD, 1999-2000).
The Sixth Five Year Plan was the period of strengthening child welfare and development. It led to the spatial expansion and enrichment of child development services through a variety of programmes.
The focus of the Eighth Five Year Plan period (1992-97) shifted the focus to human development through advocacy, mobilisation and community empowerment.
The Government of India has declared its commitment to every child in the Ninth Five Year Plan (1997-2002).

Category of children under special or difficult circumstances
  • Children in labour
  • Street children 
  • Destitute children in need of adoption
  • Drug addicts
  • Children in prostitution
  • Children of prisoners
  • Refugee children
  • Slum and migrant children
  • Children who are neglected or treated as juvenile offenders
  • Children who are physically or mentally challenged

Children faces problems
  • From every 1,000 children born in a year, 48 die within 28 days of birth. The incidence is much higher in the rural areas: 52 child deaths at birth
  • There are not enough beds to accommodate the 25 million annual births
  • One in 13 infants dies before reaching the age of one year
  • One in nine children die before reaching the age of five. This figure corresponds to official figures for 1961
  • Approximately 70 per cent of infant deaths occur in the first week of life
  • Acute Lower Respiratory Infection (ALRI) continues to claim15-20 per cent of infant deaths, especially in the first three or four months of life
  • 380,000 deaths occur each year due to Vitamin A, iron and iodine deficiencies. And 210,000 children are born cretins, or turn blind at pre-school age
  • Every year 7 to 8 lakh (700,000-800,000) children die from a preventable disease, like diarrhoea
  • In a country that has buffer stocks of food grains, nearly 75 million children below the age of 5 years are malnourished
  • 45 per cent of children below three are severely and chronically malnourished
  • Only 44 per cent of children have completed the immunisation schedule. A massive 14 per cent have not received a single vaccine

Several  achievements have been made
  • Infant mortality rates have decreased from 134 in 1946-50 to 72 in 1997
  • Under-five mortality rates declined from 177 in 1980 to 100 in 1993
  • Every girl-child born today can expect to live up to the age of 58 years, as against 41 years in 1951-   60
  • Every boy-child can live to 58 years, as against 42 years in 1951-60
  • More deliveries take place in health facilities (33 per cent in 1992-93, compared to 25 per cent five  years ago)
  • More children receive the essential vaccines protecting them from tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, measles and polio (42 per cent, up from 36 per cent). The Universal Immunisation Programme aims at immunising all 25 million children born in the country each year against the six vaccine-preventable diseases.

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