The Sunderbans, the world's largest mangrove forests, has seen rampant malnutrition among children. In light of this, experts have called for a change in the health system strategy and zoomed in on the the gaps in the public healthcare system.
The Sunderbans Health Watch (SHW) report, How Healthy are the Children of the Indian Sunderban, the first in a series launched here Thursday, addresses the problems in child healthcare.
The study, conducted in the Parthapratim Block of the forests, home to nearly 4,500,000 people, draws attention to the alarming fact that more than one-third of the children are chronically malnourished and face an "extra burden of morbidity".
Compiled by researchers of India Institute of Health Management and Research (IIHMR) under the Future Health System (FHS) research programme, the survey also offers possible solutions, and priority areas of focus for new initiatives.
"The most significant finding is that more than one-third of the children are chronically malnourished," said Barun Kanjilal of IIHMR.
The survey predicts that in a span of a month, 0.3 million children will fall ill and 26,000 children will require hospitalisation in a year.
Compared to district or state average, Sunderbans children suffer more from respiratory infection or gastrointestinal disorders.
The report states that children in the Sunderbans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are the most vulnerable to health shocks due to unacceptable levels of under-nutrition and high prevalence of common communicable diseases.