22 tribal children die of malnutrition in eastern India village

In India, 46 per cent of its children under five years of age are underweight and 48 per cent are stunted. (Representative image) Photograph:( Getty )

Reuters Jajpur, Odisha, India Jul 20, 2016, 07.48 AM (IST)
Twenty-two tribal children in India's eastern Odisha state have died of malnutrition in the last two months. The children, all members of Juang tribe in Nagada village of Odisha's Jajpur district, died of acute malnutrition.

With no access to immediate healthcare and social welfare benefits, situation remains grim in the village. Meanwhile, the Opposition lashed out at the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) for not taking adequate steps to address the issue.

"Twenty two children have died due to malnutrition. This has happened because Odisha's chief minister is saying that he is doing development work, he is providing special schemes for villagers and tribal people, but no such scheme from federal or state government has reached the villagers and tribals yet," said a legislator of Bharatiya Janata Party, Rabinarayan Nayak.

Despite India's economic boom over the last two decades, 46 per cent of its children under five years of age are underweight, and 48 per cent are stunted, according to the 2015 government figures.

Child malnutrition is an underlying cause of death for three million children annually across the world - nearly half of all child deaths - with most dying from preventable illnesses like diarrhoea due to weak immune systems, according to the United Nations Children's Fund.

Those lucky enough to survive, grow up without enough energy, protein, vitamins and minerals, causing their brains and bodies to be stunted, which means they cannot fulfill their physical, academic or economic potential.