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Why malnutrition is not just a health related problem in India? What s...

  Sep 07, 2017

Why malnutrition is not just a health related problem in India? What steps can be taken to tackle the incidence of malnutrition in the country?

Nutrition is an issue of survival, health and development for current and succeeding generations. Child born underweight have impaired immune function and increased risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases in their later life. Malnourished children tend to have lower IQ and impaired cognitive ability, thus affecting their school performance and then productivity in their later life. Nutritional health of all age groups represents our National Economic Asset.

Improving the nutritional status of the population is imperative for National Development. Under nutrition in young children is a major public health problem in India. The NFHS-4 has not shown an encouraging improvement in the nutritional status, especially among women and children. As per NFHS-4 the level of underweight has decreased by 6.8% and is stunting by 9.6%. Level of anaemia has decreased by 11% as compared to NNHS-3 figures. The Union health budget is just over 1% of the total GDP as compared to the World Health Organization’s recommended 5%. The budget for ICDS in the last two years has been cut by almost 50% and the National Food Security Act, 2013 is yet to be implemented.

Tackling malnutrition:
  1. Ensure better coordination among various ministries
  2. Improve data collection on stunting and obesity
  3. Invest heavily in social welfare programmes
  4. Make welfare delivery mechanisms more accountable
  5. Allow panchayats a bigger say in running welfare schemes
  6. Diversify the Public Distribution System
  7. Strengthen and expand on nutrition schemes for adolescent girls
  8. Strengthen MGNREGA to ensure better food security
  9. Revive and safeguard forests as sustainable sources of food
  10. Improve access to public healthcare for poorer communities
Malnutrition is not to be viewed merely as an offshoot of poverty having adverse effects on health and development of individuals but as a national problem that results in loss of productivity and economic backwardness. Therefore it is important that we the improve nutrition at the individual level. Thus, series of convergent and well coordinated actions in different sectors are required to be undertaken in the mission mode approach to address this big network problem of malnutrition.