Malnutrition is a growing cause of concern in rural areas of the country. To tackle the problem in Bihar, a pilot project has been launched by Jeevika, a rural livelihood programme, with technical assistance from Unicef. The project includes a mid-arm bangle with a 23 cm circumference that women will have to wear. This bangle will tell health workers if a woman is healthy or malnourished by the fit of the bangle.
If a 19-year-old woman wears the bangle and its thickness comes out to be more than 23 cm, then she will be considered healthy, if it’s lesser than that, it will mean that she is malnourished. If a woman is found out to be malnourished, then measures and dietary methods will be prescribed to her. The project also aims to identify all malnourished women in Bihar. Currently, it has been launched in two blocks of Purnea — Kasba and Jalalgarh.
“Though the mid-arm circumference tape is a well-known method, it has been modified into a bangle for convenience of rural women…” Unicef communications officer Nipurnh Gupta told The Indian Express.
The significance of 23 cm, Gupta said, can be judged from the fact that it is a widely accepted standard reached by a variety of experts.
The mid-arm bangle method may be indicative but need not be considered as other known methods like Body Mass index sundry pathological tests.
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It was a Unicef idea to initiate the use of metal bangles as opposed to colour-coded indicator tape so that rural women can use it more comfortably. The pilot will be taken forward to other districts once it is successfully completed in Kasba and Jalalgarh. One of its core objectives is to address problems of stunted children born to a large number of malnourished women in Bihar. A WHO report claims that every second child born in Bihar is prone to stunting.