Stunt the growth of malnourishment

Malnutrition is a condition that results from eating a diet in which one or more nutrients are either not enough or are too much such that the diet causes health problems, write Dr Rita Prasad & Saloni Gautam

Malnutrition

India has witnessed high political commitment towards improving the nutritional status of its population but it sadly holds almost a third of the world’s burden for stunting, according to the Global Nutrition Report 2018.

Malnutrition, in the recent past, has received a lot of attention due to an increased incidence of malnourishment in the country. Malnourished women have a higher risk of not surviving childbirth, low immunity, and being more prone to infections. These women have a lower sense of well-being and are not able to be productive with reduced potential to generating income and optimally living life to their full potential. Women’s nutrition is of paramount importance as it not only impacts women’s health but the health of their children too. 

Malnutrition in India is complex and multifactorial with multiple underlying causes like poverty, gender, nutrition insecurity, poor sanitation and hygiene. The cyclic nature of inter-generational poverty, its linkage with social and economic inequalities, and low levels of education and empowerment of women from vulnerable communities are some of the underlying areas which also need action, especially in tribal and remote districts where the impact of these factors are starkly visible.

Further, more than half of India’s children are anaemic (58%), indicating an inadequate amount of haemoglobin in the blood. This is caused by the nutritional deficiency of iron and other essential minerals, and vitamins in the body.

In order to reduce the problem of malnutrition, India needs to adopt proven strategies using a bottom-up method of empowering the most marginalised. By coupling this approach with strengthening community actions on household nutrition security, interventions of health and hygiene promotion, water and sanitation and growth promotion, the national programme will create a synergy resulting in significant and sustainable impact.

(The authors are specialists,
CARE India)

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