The Women and Child Development ministry suppressed part of the UNICEF report on child health in India. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel questioned the government for not releasing the data on child malnutrition and immunization problems in Gujarat and a few other states.
"I find it surprising that in October 2014, the women and child development ministry chose to publish only a part of this report, but excluded states such as Gujarat which has a chronic problem of malnutrition and child immunization," Patel said in a letter to Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi.
The Rapid Survey of Children (RSOC) 2013-2014 was commissioned by the women and child development ministry in association with UNICEF.
"While the government may have its reasons for not releasing the report to the national audience, it remains inexplicable as to how foreign agencies such as the US-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) got access to this data," said Patel, the political secretary to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
"The IFPRI has used data from RSOC 2013-2014 to publish its first ever global nutrition report last year," he said.
Patel said that lack of reliable and relevant data is one of the major constraints in formulating policies pertaining to public health.
"The last publicly available data on health and nutrition is more than eight years old. Given that the previous government had invested significantly in schemes such as the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and Intergrated Child Development Services (ICDS), India would have seen a marked improvement in her health care indicators overt the last decade," he said.
Patel said in his letter that RSOC 2013-2014 has a substantial sample size covering all major states and its disclosure will not only benefit agencies but also the academia and civil society working in the field of public health.
"I believe that the release of the report will also veer public discourse and attention towards less discussed matters such as malnutrition and infant mortality," he added.