Monday 13 June 2016
According to Nobel Prize Winner for Economics Angus Deaton, malnutrition in India is not just related to calorie intake, but India’s dependence on a carbohydrate-based diet with low protein and fat content. He also addressed inadequate sanitation, which triggers increases in infection-borne deficiencies in nutrients. India’s malnutrition problem is said to be even worse than Burkina Faso, Haiti, Bangladesh or North Korea. There is indeed a lot of work to be done in this domain, and as aware and concerned individuals, you can support charity Save the Children in efforts in nutrition rehab, as well as creating infrastructure for better nutrition for children.
India’s malnutrition problem at a glance
World Bank data indicates that India has one of the world’s highest demographics of children suffering from malnutrition – said to be double that of Sub-Saharan Africa with dire consequences. India’s Global Hunger Index India ranking of 67 the 80 nations with the worst hunger situation places us even below North Korea or Sudan. 44% of children under the age of 5 are underweight, while 72% of infants have anaemia. India needs a lot more to be done to tackle the menace of malnutrition and NGOs are plugging the gaps in government schemes. Support an NGO today to render your small but crucial contribution in giving a healthy start to Indian children.
Malnutrition in India: States where malnutrition is prominent
i. Uttar Pradesh : Most children here, in India's densest state by population, under the age of 5 are stunted due to malnutrition.
ii. Tamil Nadu: The state, despite high education, has a prominent child malnutrition problem. A National Family Health Survey reveals that 23% of children here are underweight, while 25% of Chennai children show moderately stunted growth.
iii. Madhya Pradesh: 2015 data reveals that Madhya Pradesh has India's highest number of malnourished children - 74.1% of them under 6 suffer from anaemia, and 60% have to deal with malnutrition.
iv. Jharkhand and Bihar: At 56.5%, Jharkhand has India's second highest number of malnourished children. This is followed by Bihar, at 55.9%.
Save the Children’s fight against malnutrition
i. Tamil Nadu
In the slums of Chennai, Save the Children launched ‘Aaharam’, an extension of the Mission Nutrition) launched by its partner GlaxoSmithKline. The project raised awareness about malnutrition causes among mothers, families and communities. This project was carried out across 20 notified slums of Chennai and 15 villages in the Tiruvallur district. Activities included:
• Regular malnutrition screening of children (especially between ages 3-6)
• Community Case Management of undernourished children
• Nutrition education – with regard to Young Child Feeding Practices
• Following up on malnutrition afflicted children
• Improve community access to nutritious food through locally available food items
Save the Children (in partnership with the Rajmata Jijau Mother–Child Health and Nutrition Mission of Government of Maharashtra) implemented its Village Child Development Centre (VCDC) model to treat malnourished children. The scheme works at 30 Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) centres with support from local Anganwadi workers in tribal areas in the Thane district to screen the young for malnutrition. The malnourished get regular meals, treatment for infections, as well as receive anti-parasitic and Vitamin A supplements.
iii. Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) at Tonk, Rajasthan
Known as Malnutrition Treatment Centre, the Rajasthan Centre was among the first that the NGO set up to fight malnutrition. Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres (NRCs) are now live in Rajasthan and Jharkhand, which see high rates of curing children with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) through medical and nutritional interventions.
iv. Stop Diarrhoea Initiative - WASH
Diarrhoea and malnutrition are linked to poor hygiene (infections trigger mineral depletion and loss of appetite and can lead to malnutrition) and are India’s two leading causes of under-5 deaths.
Improving Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) levels
NGO volunteers visit slums and backwards communities to improve the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) situation to mitigate diarrhoea and diarrhoea-related deaths across five Indian states, reaching 2 million people (with over two lakh children).
The initiative is also working on preventing open defecation – major causes of diarrhoea.
Providing children a hygiene kit comprising a jar, soap, soap case and a nail cutter to schools is going a long way in ingraining habits of maintain sound personal hygiene in children. Community-level ‘Toilet User Groups’ formed by the NGO have helped identify land to construct toilets and plan sanitation.
Awareness campaigns involving school teachers and students,
New WASH projects are coming up in Delhi, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal - community toilet construction, promoting and building toilets in homes and schools, and providing hand washing facilities and clean water access.
Progress India has made in tackling malnutrition
India's decades of investment in child malnutrition programmes is finally paying off. End-2014 results saw a dramatic fall in the number of underweight kids, as well as stunted according to official nutrition data. According to the numbers, India has 14.5 million fewer stunted children, a considerable win for a nation which is home to the shortest kids in the world. Instead of 46 %, today over 72 % of infants below 6 months are breastfed, beating the World Health Assembly’s targets for India for 2025.
Nutrition is among any human's fundamental needs, and access is even more imperative for a child. Regular access to food drives progress, and it is heartening that a nation-wide Rapid Survey on Children (RSOC), in association with UNICEF showed a marked improvement in malnutrition. NGOs like Save the Children can add increased access to nutrition, as well as counseling of nutrition choices to India's less fortunate. A combination of aforementioned civil society activities, the public sector and sponsorship through those who donate online, investors, corporates, and volunteers can successfully eradicate the hunger problem, and permanently end the scourge of malnutrition-based infant deaths.
Wondering how your contribution to Save the Children can turn around the life of underprivileged children? Click to find out.