4 January 2011
FREE BINAYAK SEN CAMPAIGN
On 4 January 2011, the occasion of Dr Binayak Sen’s 61st birthday, the Free Binayak Sen Campaign together with groups working on issues of the health and nutrition is launching an initiative to distribute blankets and feed homeless people in Delhi.
The month-long initiative is meant to help homeless citizens of Delhi to tide over the coldest part of the winter with additional nutrition. Many homeless people die every year in Delhi and other parts of northern India due to severe malnutrition during winter months.
The initiative is part of a larger campaign calling for the immediate release of Dr Sen, an internationally renowned health and human rights worker, who has was unjustly sentenced on 24 December 2010 by a local court in Chhattisgarh to life imprisonment for ‘sedition’ and ‘conspiracy’.
The initiative is also meant to bring public attention on the issue of malnutrition among India’s poorest communities which Dr Binayak Sen, along with other public health workers, have been highlighting for many years.
“Binayak’s fact finding reports on malnutrition in Chhattisgarh played an important role in the Right to Food petition that was filed in the Supreme Court a decade ago”, said Colin Gonsalves, Supreme Court lawyer, who pointed out that Dr Sen’s work on nutrition had helped revise food security policies in Chhattisgarh itself.
According to UNICEF malnutrition is more common in India than in Sub-Saharan Africa and one in every three malnourished children in the world lives in India. In India, around 46 per cent of all children below the age of three are too small for their age, 47 per cent are underweight and at least 16 per cent are wasted.
According to the 2005-2006 NFHS data 33% of married women and 28% of Indian men are too thin, according to the body mass index (BMI), an indicator derived from height and weight measurements. Underweight is most common among the poor, the rural population, adults who have no education and scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
“In the last six years, globally, more children have died of malnutrition and easily preventable illnesses than the number of adults who were killed in the six year of the Second World War” Dr Sen said at a lecture in Chennai to students of journalism, a few months before he was arrested.
“ It is impossible for any doctor today to remain apolitical while treating poor communities whose problems arise from their poverty and bad living conditions” said Dr Vandana Prasad, a pediatrician and member of the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan.
Well known public health expert Dr Imrana Qadeer said that Binayak Sen worked in remote tribal areas and carried out important interventions to improve food availability, provide low cost diagnostics and treatment options. She said his work on human rights was an extension of his health work.
Announcing the initiative to provide food to homeless people in Delhi Indu Prakash Singh of the Indo-Global Social Service Society appealed to the public to donate food materials at designated shelters around the city.
For further information contact:
Indu Prakash Singh: 9911362925; Satya Sivaraman: 9818514952
Vrinda/ Sarojini 9810899333