Curbing Malnutrition in India
- 29 Jul 2022
- 6 min read
Why in News?
Recently, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has released targets to Curb Malnutrition in India.
What are the Targets released to Curb Malnutrition?
- Aims at reducing stunting and under-nutrition (underweight prevalence) among children below 6 years by 2% each year.
- Aims to Reduce, low birth weight by 2% per annum, Anaemia among children between six and 59 months, as well as women and adolescent girls (15 to 49 years), by 3% per annum.
- Anaemia is a medical condition in which the blood doesn't have enough healthy red blood cells.
- Highlighted the NFHS-5 Report, which comprises of detailed information on key domains of population, such as:
What are the Findings of the NFHS-5?
- Data on Stunted Children:
- Meghalaya has the highest number of stunted children (46.5%), followed by Bihar (42.9%).
- Maharashtra has 25.6% wasted children (weight for height) — the highest — followed by Gujarat (25.1%).
- Jharkhand has the highest percentage of women (26%), between 15 and 49 years, who have a below-normal Body Mass Index (BMI).
- Other Findings:
- The Total Fertility Rates (TFR), an average number of children per woman, has declined from 2.2 to 2.0 at the national level between NFHS-4 & 5.
- Overall Contraceptive Prevalence Rate (CPR) has increased substantially from 54% to 67% in the country.
- Institutional Births have increased substantially from 79% to 89% in India.
- Stunting has reduced from 38.4% to 35.5%, wasting from 21.0% to 19.3% and underweight prevalence is down from 35.8% to 32.1%.
- Women (15-49 years) whose BMI (Body Mass Index) is below normal has reduced from 22.9% in NFHS-4 to 18.7% in NFHS-5.
What are Malnutrition and Related Initiatives?
- Malnutrition is the condition that develops when the body is deprived of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients it needs to maintain healthy tissues and organ function.
- Malnutrition occurs in people who are either undernourished or over nourished.
- POSHAN Abhiyaan: The government of India has launched the National Nutrition Mission (NNM) or POSHAN Abhiyaan to ensure a “Malnutrition Free India” by 2022.
- Anemia Mukt Bharat Abhiyan: Launched in 2018, the mission aims at accelerating the annual rate of decline of anaemia from one to three percentage points.
- Mid-day Meal (MDM) scheme: It aims to improve nutritional levels among school children which also has a direct and positive impact on enrolment, retention and attendance in schools.
- The National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013: It aims to ensure food and nutrition security for the most vulnerables through its associated schemes and programmes, making access to food a legal right.
- Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY): Rs.6,000 is transferred directly to the bank accounts of pregnant women for availing better facilities for their delivery.
- Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme: It was launched in 1975 and the scheme aims at providing food, preschool education, primary healthcare, immunization, health check-up and referral services to children under 6 years of age and their mothers.
- Increase Financial Commitments:
- There is a greater need to increase investment in women and children’s health and nutrition to ensure their sustainable development and improved quality of life.
- Outcome-oriented Approach:
- India must adopt an outcome-oriented approach on nutrition programmes.
- There has to be direct engagement with nutritionally vulnerable groups (this includes the elderly, pregnant women, those with special needs and young children), and contribute toward ensuring last-mile delivery of key nutrition services and interventions.
- Basic Education and General Awareness:
- Various studies highlight a strong link between mothers’ education and improved access and compliance with nutrition interventions among children.
- We must ensure the young population a competitive advantage, nutrition and health are foundational to that outcome.
- Programmes’ Monitoring and Evaluation:
- There should be a process to monitor and evaluate programmes and address systemic and on the ground challenges.
- There is a need to deliberate over effective policy decisions, monitor the implementation of schemes, and review nutritional status across States.