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Curbing Malnutrition in India

  • 29 Jul 2022
  • 6 min read

For Prelims: NFHS-5, Malnutrition, Stunting, Wasting.

For Mains: Findings of NFHS-5, Health, Issues related to women, Population and associated issues.

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:
    • health and family welfare, fertility, family planning, infant and child mortality, maternal and child health, nutrition and anaemia, morbidity and healthcare, women’s empowerment etc.

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?

  • About:
    • 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.
  • Initiatives:
    • 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.

Way Forward

  • 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.

Source: IE

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