Public Health (2000) 114, 495 ß R.I.P.H.H. 2000 www.nature.com/ph
Letter to the Editor Absolute poverty and child health in India In March 2000, six Paediatric Outreach Clinics were held in deprived areas in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, North India. Simple data sets were collated for age, sex and weight for 21, 10, 11, 36, 37 and 29 children, respectively, in Jatarpur, Ghora Gaon, Naya Gaon (stone-crushing sites), Awardpura (carpet-makers), City Centre (`tribal' families) and Madkarnagar (slum-dwellers). Weights were compared with standard values on Agarwal charts.1,2 These charts were recently shown to be a better representation of the growth of normal Indian children than the Indian Council of Medical Research or the National Centre for Health Statistics charts3 and they represent the north of the country particularly well. On summing our data, the percentages of 144 total children falling below the 3rd, 5th and 10th centile cut-off points for weight were 44%, 50% and 62%, respectively. Body weight is a sensitive index of child health and these ®gures clearly re¯ect underlying social deprivation. As we enter the 21st century, absolute poverty in developing countries remains a pressing International Public Health concern. Acknowledgements With thanks to the Sambhav Social Service Organisation, 13-Balwant Nagar, Gwalior-474 002, Madhya Pradesh, India.
References 1 Agarwal DK, Agarwal KN, Upadhyay SK, Mittal R, Prakash R, Rai S. Physical and sexual growth pattern of af¯uent Indian children from 5 to 18 y of age. Indian Pediatr 1992; 29: 1203 ± 1268. 2 Agarwal DK, Agarwal KN. Physical growth pattern of Indian af¯uent children (birth-6 y). Indian Pediatr 1994; 31: 377 ± 413. 3 Khatgawat R, Dabadghao P, Mehrotra RN, Bhatia V. Growth charts suitable for evaluation of Indian children. Indian Pediatr 1998; 35: 859 ± 865.
DA Green West Middlesex University Hospital, Twickenham Road, Isleworth, Middlesex TW7 6AF, UK