The 2017 Global Nutrition Report states that 51 percent of women in the age group of 15 to 49 in India suffer from anemia. Malnutrition is a very complex issue in India, according to statistics, about one third of the population of India is suffering from malnutrition, while about 40 percent of the children are unable to get adequate food. The Government of India has made several efforts so far to overcome this problem, but due to the fast growing population and increasing proportion of the population living in urban areas, problems are constantly being created.
What is malnutrition
- Malnutrition is a condition in which the body is not able to get complete nutrition due to taking food and food in a haphazard manner and leading to a serious condition.
- Malnutrition also occurs when a person’s diet does not have the right amount of nutrients.
- Actually, we get energy and nutrients through food to stay healthy, but if the food does not get enough nutrients including protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals, then we can become malnourished.
Effects of malnutrition
- Due to not getting the required balanced diet for a long time, the immunity of children and women decreases, which makes them easily fall prey to many diseases.
- Malnutrition is the root of most diseases of children and women. In women, anemia or goitre disease or rickets in children or night blindness and even blindness are the side effects of malnutrition.
- Malnutrition affects children the most. It starts after or even before birth and increases rapidly in children between 6 months to 3 years of age.
- The most terrible consequence is the economic loss caused by it. Human productivity decreases by 10–15 percent due to malnutrition which can reduce GDP by 5–10 percent.
Malnutrition status in india
- In a recent report, the World Bank said that between 1990 and 2018, India has done incredible work to fight poverty and this has led to a significant decline in the poverty rate in the country.
- The poverty rate of the country has almost halved in this period.
- According to statistics, during the year 2006 to 2016, India has done the fastest poverty reduction and in these 10 years about 27 crore people have come above the poverty line.
- According to the Poverty Index Report 2019, about 50 percent of the total poor of the country is in only four states of the country, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
- Although the poverty rate in the country is declining, the problem of malnutrition and hunger still persists in the country.
- According to the recently released ‘The State of the World’s Children – 2019’, one out of every 3 children up to the age of 5 in the world suffers from malnutrition or underweight. Around 200 million people in the world and every second child in India suffer from some form of malnutrition.
2.The report also revealed that in the year 2018, about 8.8 lakh children under the age of 5 died due to malnutrition in India from Nigeria (8.6 lakh), Pakistan (4.09 lakh) and Republic of Congo (2.96 lakh). Is also more.
- In the same month, the Global Hunger Index 2019 was released in which India ranked 102nd out of 117 countries, while India ranked 103rd in 2018.
- In India, only 9.6 percent of the total children between 6 and 23 months get minimum acceptable diet.
- Nobel laureate in economics Amartya Sen says that the situation of children suffering from malnutrition and hunger in the country is quite dangerous, new options should be explored at the earliest.
- After birth, the nutrients that children need, they are not able to get. The situation in the country is that neither children are properly vaccinated nor there is proper system of treatment for them.
- The total food production in India has increased from 198 million tonnes to 269 million tonnes in the last 20 years, but despite the increase in food production, malnutrition rate in India is very high.
- Malnutrition leads to a loss of about 6.4 percent of India’s GDP and is far behind countries like India, Indonesia and the Philippines, where malnutrition leads to a loss of only 2.3 percent and 1.5 percent of GDP respectively.
- In a country with a young working population, the problem of malnutrition is a hindrance in efforts to become an economic superpower.
Causes of malnutrition in India
- Due to low purchasing power, it becomes difficult for poor families to purchase nutritious food in sufficient quantity and due to which they become victim of other problems like malnutrition. As a result of which their production capacity decreases and the cycle of poverty and malnutrition goes on like this.
- The lack of awareness regarding nutritious and quality food in the country is evident due to which almost the whole family becomes malnourished.
- Nutritional deficiency and diseases are the most prominent causes of malnutrition. Due to illiteracy and poverty, there is a lack of essential nutrients in the food of Indians, due to which many types of diseases, such as anemia, goitre and children’s bones become weak. Also, family food insecurity and lack of awareness can also be considered as a big reason.
- Non-availability of health services in the country can also be considered as one of the main reasons. According to government statistics, a doctor is available in about 1700 patients in India, while globally there are 1.5 doctors per 1000 patients.
- Gender inequality is also a major cause of malnutrition. Due to low social status of Indian woman there is much difference in quantity and quality of her food as compared to male food.
- Non-availability of clean drinking water and dirt is also a major cause of malnutrition.
Government Effort – National Nutrition Mission
The National Nutrition Mission, also known as the Nutrition Campaign, was launched by the Government of India in the year 2018.
- The National Nutrition Mission- NNM aims to reduce malnutrition and anemia in young children, women and adolescents.
- The objective of this mission is to make various plans to address malnutrition and to establish a strong mechanism for this task. Also, it is another objective to encourage states and union territories to fulfill the goals.
- It is important to note that the National Nutrition Mission has been designed by the NITI Aayog under the ‘National Nutrition Strategy’. This strategy aims to create a “malnutrition-free India” by the year 2022.
- Lack of coordination between various ministries affects the implementation of the program.
- As of July 2019, only 16 per cent of the funds allocated to them by the state and union governments were used.
- Lack of real-time data monitoring, consistency and accountability also affects the National Nutrition Mission.
- Anganwadi centers are very important for delivery of services to mothers and children. But many states including Bihar and Odisha are struggling to establish working Anganwadi centers and recruit staff.
- Many experts believe that there is a need to increase the growth rate to tackle hunger and malnutrition in the country.
- To increase per capita income in the country, there is a need to set high targets in all three sectors of the economy – agriculture, industry and service.
- It is important to note that in order to tackle poverty and reduce the rate of malnutrition in the country, firstly attention should be paid to agriculture sector. Even today the agricultural sector in the country is largely dependent on nature mainly rain.
Although presently agriculture sector contributes only 17 percent of the total income of India, but more than 50 percent of the country’s population depends on agriculture and that is why it cannot be ignored.
- Under the new health policy, the government has now set a target of spending 2.5 percent of GDP on health, which is a commendable effort. Significantly, till now the government used to spend only 1.04 percent of GDP for this work.
- Educationally backward youth will have to be trained through employment oriented courses.
- Important steps like reforms in public distribution system should also be taken.
- The new cattle census has revealed that milk production in the country is increasing rapidly, so it is also necessary to ensure proper supply of milk and milk products to children.
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