'India lags behind in nutritional terms, among 36 worst countries'

A study has found India to be the lowest on nutrition parameters, sharing the last rank with Democratic Republic of Congo and Yemen. India performed lowest at the level of policy as well as implementation.

Nutrition barometer, the study carried out by Save the Children, compared commitments and outcomes of 36 countries which together account for 90 per cent of the world’s stunted children.

Components for the commitment included a snapshot of national governments’ political, legal and financial promises. Outcomes were measured by analysing progress in addressing child nutrition.

India as a country came last on both the counts. Despite 12th five year plan being focused on health, according to current outlay, India will spend 1.67 per cent of its gross domestic product on health sector.

In fact, countries in South Asia such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal fared better than India in dealing with malnutrition.

The countries that performed best are Guatemala, Malawi and Peru. All three show strong commitment with strong nutrition outcomes.

Save the Children India’s CEO Thomas Chandy said, “The report is a pointer to the need to back political commitment with adequate resources and effective mechanisms.”

The nutrition barometer was based on the global hunger index produced by the international food policy research institute and the hunger reduction commitment index of the Institute of development studies.

The study recognised United Nations Children’s Fund’s conceptual framework, which considers national-level indicators like health and social policy as well as household factors — income and education.

The outcomes for India have been measured using the national family and health survey 3 from 2005-06 in the absence of more recent data on malnutrition. “This itself is a big lacuna that the government needs to address immediately. Unless we track the efficacy of our schemes and policies on the ground there can be no course correction even if it is required,” said Shireen Vakil Miller, director, advocacy and policy, Save the Children.

“There is an urgent need to commission a comprehensive health and nutrition survey in the country.”

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