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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 01 December, 2022

  • 7 Min Read

Resolving India's Malnutrition Crisis

Resolving India's Malnutrition Crisis

Experts have proposed several solutions to the problem of chronic malnutrition.

About Malnutrition:

  • It refers to deficiencies, excesses, or imbalances in a person's energy and/or nutrient intake.
  • It is a persistent issue and a long-standing challenge for India's public administration.

Malnutrition refers to three broad categories of conditions:

Undernutrition:

  • Wasting (low weight-for-height), stunting (low height-for-age), and underweight (low weight-for-age) are all examples of malnourishment.
  • The stunted and wasted children are considered underweight, indicating a lack of proper nutritional intake and inadequate post-partum care.

Malnutrition related to micronutrients:

  • It includes micronutrient deficiencies (a lack of essential vitamins and minerals) as well as micronutrient excess; and

Overweight:

Obesity

  • Obesity leads to diet-related noncommunicable diseases are included (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers).

Malnutrition in India: Various Reports

Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2022:

  • In the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2022, India ranked 107th out of 121 countries.
  • The GHI is an important indicator of nutrition, particularly among children, because it examines stunting, wasting, and mortality in children, as well as calorific deficiency in the general population.

National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5):

  • According to India's National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) from 2019-21, 35.5% of children under the age of five were stunted, 19.3% were wasting, and 32.1% were underweight.
  • Undernutrition in India is a gendered issue.
  • According to the report The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020, nearly 51.4 percent of women of reproductive age in India were anaemic in 2016.
  • Almost half of all women suffer from severe malnutrition and anaemia.

Malnutrition Prevention Measures

Poshan Abhiyan

POSHAN 2.0 (Prime Minister's Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition):

Integrated Child Development Services:

  • It is one of the world's largest and most unique early childhood care and development programmes.
  • Beneficiaries of the Scheme include children aged 0 to 6, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.
  • The implementing agency is the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Mid-day Meal Scheme:

  • The Mid-day Meal Scheme is an Indian school meal programme designed to improve the nutritional status of school-age children.
  • It applies to all students in Classes 1–8 of government schools, government-aided schools, special training centres, and madrasas supported by the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan.

National Food Security Mission:

  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare launched it as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme in 2007-08.
  • It focuses on increasing sustainable crop production through area expansion and productivity enhancement.

National Nutrition Initiative:

  • It is the government's flagship nutrition programme for children, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.
  • Aim: To reduce stunting and wasting among children by 2% per year (total 6% until 2022) and anaemia by 3% per year (total 9% until 2022) among children, adolescent girls, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.
  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development is in charge of implementation.

Challenges while addressing the malnutrition problem:

  • Inadequate funding and implementation: There are still gaps in how existing centrally sponsored schemes are funded and implemented.
  • Budgets are being allocated that are nowhere near the magnitude required to improve nutrition in the country.
  • Manpower constraints: In Jharkhand, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan, more than half of the Child Development Project Officer (CDPO) positions were vacant, indicating severe manpower constraints in successfully implementing such an important scheme.
  • There is no routine in social audits: Social audits, which are intended to allow for community oversight of the quality of services provided in schools, are not performed on a regular basis.
  • Cash transfer issues: Cash transfers appear to be a popular solution for several social sector interventions in India today, including the health and nutrition sectors.

Suggestions and future plans:

  • Need for a comprehensive programme: If the intergenerational nature of malnutrition is to be addressed, a comprehensive programme targeting adolescent girls is required.
  • Cash transfers can also be used to incentivize behavioural changes such as seeking more institutional support.
  • Food rations and special supplements for the target population of pregnant and lactating mothers, infants, and young children are critical.
  • Repairing pre-existing schemes: Fixing existing programmes is the obvious solution to India's multifaceted nutrition challenge.
  • Getting the existing schemes right will necessitate greater participation of local government and community groups in the design and delivery of tailored nutrition interventions

Source: Down To Earth


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