Malnutrition sapping India’s strength

Prime minister Narendra Modi reviews current status of malnutrition, stunting and related problems

GN Bureau | November 25, 2017


#Disease   #Malnutrition   #Health  


The country is facing a problem of malnutrition, so much so that prime minister Narendra Modi had to personally take stock of the situation.

Modi on Friday reviewed the progress and efforts being made to prevent and reduce under-nutrition and related problems in India. The high level review meeting was attended by officials from PMO, NITI Aayog and other ministries.

The current status of malnutrition, stunting and related problems was reviewed. Successful nutrition initiatives in some other developing countries came up for discussion.

Modi stressed on the need to work towards concrete objectives to reduce stunting, under-nutrition, low birth weight, and anaemia. He emphasized that visible and measurable results should be seen by 2022, the 75th anniversary of independence, said a PIB release.

Malnutrition has impacted quite a few districts in the country.

Despite the significant steps the world has taken towards improving nutrition and associated health burdens over recent decades, this year’s Global Nutrition Report shows what a large-scale and universal problem nutrition is. The global community is grappling with multiple burdens of malnutrition

“The SDGs, adopted by 193 countries in 2015, offer a tremendous window of opportunity to reverse or stop these trends. The SDGs are telling us loud and clear: we must deliver multiple goals through shared action. Nutrition is part of that shared action,” the report said.

India is facing a serious burden of under-nutrition, according to the global report which shows that more than half the women of reproductive age in the country suffer from anaemia, reported The Hindu Businessline.

Latest figures show that 38 percent of children under five are affected by stunting — children too short for their age due to lack of nutrients, suffering irreversible damage to brain capacity. About 21 percent of children under 5 are defined as ’wasted’ or ‘severely wasted’ — meaning they do not weigh enough for their height.

Over half of women of reproductive age — 51 per cent — suffer from anaemia — a serious condition that can have long-term health impacts for mother and child. More than 22 percent of adult women are overweight, a rising concern as women are disproportionately affected by the global obesity epidemic.

UNICEF country representative Karin Hulshof, while speaking on “Child Undernutrition in India: A Gender Issue" said that the scale and the gender dimension of nutrition in India shows that while there is economic growth of nearly 10 per cent annually, rates of child undernutrition remain very high. According to NFHS-3, 48 per cent of children under the age of five, are stunted due to chronic undernutrition, with 70 per cent being anemic.

The nutrition situation of children is largely due to the situation of women. NFHS-3 indicates that 36 percent of Indian women are chronically undernourished and 55 percent are anemic.  Recent data form Bihar and Madhya Pradesh shows that girls represent up to 68 per cent of the children admitted to programmes for the severely malnourished.

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