News article

Malnutrition still a fearsome shadow on many countries, need for action felt

Posted:  Friday, October 16, 2015

Malnutrition is here to stay for long despite all Government efforts found the Global Hunger Index 2015. This was echoed in the Global Nutrition Report (GNR) 2015 too. The biggest nutrition challenge facing the government now is to tackle malnutrition and reduce its prevalence rates.

Poor nutrition in early life provides enough fodder for trouble in adulthood in the form of lower productivity, higher risk of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. Not just this, poor nutrition also drains the nation’s wealth. However, studies have reported rich dividends with nutrition investment; for every rupee invested on effective nutrition programmes, Rs16 can come back through a productive work force.

What could compound the malnutrition problem is relative inaction from the Government. Although the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) was conducted a decade back, results from other nutrition surveys such as the District-level Household Surveys (DLHS-4), and the Rapid Survey on Children (RSOC) have still not evoked action. What’s surprising is that an official announcement was made to initiate ‘Nutrition Missions’ by the ministry of women and child development in September 2014. There has been no progress on that front too.

So what can be done as a solution? Health experts suggest the following options:

Indian political and bureaucratic leaders must acknowledge the extent of malnutrition and the nutrition challenge that needs to be sorted. This will in turn help set national and state nutrition targets that line up with the World Health Assembly global targets.

Once the health target is set, smart allocation of available budget is necessary.

Increased spending and implementation of cross-cutting actions is the need of the hour.

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