Basanta Kumar Kar
Mr. Kar says that the results from the NFHS 5 calls for emergent actions on addressing rising double burden on malnutrition – an impending famine impairing the humanity.
Malnutrition has to be addressed holistically; addressing the root and structural causes- gender inequality, deprivations and high level of exclusions, poor governance and entitlements, economic constraints, myths and misconceptions.
My analysis says that India needs doubling, tripling or quadrupling efforts in many indicators to achieve Poshan Abhiyaan and UN Sustainable Development Goals. Today, India’s population suffer from all forms of malnutrition and hunger- calorie, protein and hidden Hunger (micronutrient deficiencies are popularly known as hidden hunger). We need to strategise our thinking and actions to address all forms of hunger and malnutrition.”
“The children need a safe and dignified place to survive and thrive. The first 1000 days of life starting from conception to two years of age as first window of opportunity and adolescent girls as second window of opportunity need to be prioritised. The convergence has always been a challenge. The quality home contacts and inter- personal counselling and Village Health Nutrition Sanitation and Health Day ( VHNSD) as a grassroot forum for convergence will be key to prevent nutrition disruption and spread nutrition message.”
“The NHFS 5 result indicates that management of Wasting, Anaemia and Obesity/Overweight and IYCF (Infant and Young Child Feeding) need to be top investment priorities. In India, only 11.3% children between 6-23 months are receiving adequate diet. The rising anaemia and obesity/overweight at national level are a cause of serious concerns. Something is seriously wrong in accessing safe and nutritious diets in our country and we need to fix it.”
Further talking about rising instances of anaemia in India, Mr Kar said that it is caused by infection and inflammation (including malaria), iron deficiencies, other micronutrient deficiencies and genetic factors.
“Diet with high sugar, salt and fat including trans-fat along with lifestyle issues like inactivity could be a reason for rising obesity/overweight trends in our country. India’s food regulator, FSSAI has a greater role to control all pervasive unsafe food.”
Mr Kar asserts that nutrition must be part of a household name and our ideology and that India needs a Nutrition Revolution with women leading at the front.
“The Jan Andolan already mandated under Poshan Abhiyan needs a big push. The local government bodies, women self help groups and Anganwadis need to work together. India’s more than 3.5 million women nutrition warriors need to work in a mission mode for a Mission Malnutrition Free India. It is all about fighting malnutrition together.”
“It is a long term need to free women and children from the prevalence of Malnutrition in our Society. I consider it is a ‘dire need’ and ‘foremost priority’. So, the “Time to Act is Now.”
Food and Nutrition is the most powerful tool to change the current world situation that has happened because of the pandemic. It is absolutely essential to avoid hunger crisis, malnutrition and other related aftereffects. It is our foremost priority to tackle hunger and malnutrition right now especially due to the pandemic. Organizations involved in the social development sector, funding agencies and corporates should be involved in the delivery of services with a strong sense of duty and work in a time-bound and accountable manner.
Anemia is a silent killer in the developing world. The statistics of National Family Health Survey of India tell us that every second Indian woman is anemic and one in every five maternal deaths is directly due to anemia. The story is just as glum for children. NHFS 5 data shows that more than 50% of children in India are anemic. A number that will only increase because of the ongoing crisis. This shocking statistics on anemia is a wake up call for all of us to take a very serious attitude and approach towards this problem.
Articles by Meera Satpathy
Dr. Amita Vyas
Investment in adolescent girls may well be the highest return on investment available in the developing world. Adolescence is a time for rapid physical, social, and cognitive development. Mitigating risks and enhancing both protective factors and health during this time period has long-lasting effects across the lifespan. Adolescence is also when gender-based norms and discrimination begin to take hold.
Adolescent girls are a catalytic force for change at scale and can transform the future of India. The time to act is now.
Dr. Shoba Suri
India has a history of neglect in breaking the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition. About one in five women (18.7 per cent) of reproductive age (15-49 years) in India are thin, with a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5 kilograms per square metre. This proportion is higher in rural areas (21.2 per cent) than in urban areas (13.1 per cent). Almost a quarter of women (23.3 per cent) are married before turning 18.
Under-nourished women, in all likelihood, become under-nourished mothers with a greater chance of giving birth to low birth-weight babies more prone to infections and growth failure. In India, every third child is under-weight (32.1 per cent) or stunted (35.5 per cent) and 19.3 per cent children are wasted (weak), according to 2019-21 National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) data.
The intergenerational cycle of malnutrition can be combated through robust interventions for both mother (pre- and post-pregnancy) and child, thereby, addressing the high burden of stunting.
Articles by Dr. Shoba Suri