Malnutrition, child mortality a challenge

malnutrition hunger

Efforts to prevent infant, child and maternal deaths across the country have proved futile. According to a recent report released by UNICEF, shocking information has come to the fore that six lakh children died in India in 2016. More dire is the fact that a quarter of the world’s infant deaths occur in our country, which has an infant mortality rate of less than 28 days.

Global Malnutrition Index 2020 report has been released and India is ranked 94th out of 107 countries. In 2019, India was ranked 102 out of 117 countries. The report, jointly prepared by Irish organization Concern Worldwide and German organization Welt Hunger Hilfi, said the situation in India was critical. In 2018, India was ranked 103 out of 119 countries.

In the report of the World Health Organization last year, it was said that the situation in the country is also serious in terms of malnutrition. The infant mortality rate is also at an alarming level, which is 22.4 percent.

These include under nutrition, low birth weight, undernutrition, infant mortality. According to the Global Malnutrition Index, more than 60 million people worldwide are malnourished.

Countries are assigned a score of 0 to 100 depending on the state of hunger in the country. They are sorted accordingly. In this, 0 is considered the best, which means that in a way, the situation of starvation in that country is not a matter of concern. India has been given 27.2 out of 50 and the situation is described as serious.

If the score is less than 9.9, the condition is not critical. If the score is between 10 and 19.9, the status is moderate. If it is from 20 to 34.9 points, then the state of hunger is serious. A score of 35 to 39.9 is an alarm bell and a score greater than 50 means that the danger is very high and the situation is serious. India’s performance in 2020 has been relatively good. India has 27.2 marks, in 2000 38.9 marks, in 2006 37.5 and in 2012 29.3 marks.

The report also said that the five-to-one death rate in India declined between 2000 and 2018. India lags behind Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia in the Global Malnutrition Index. Only 13 countries are worse than India.

It is not a matter of pride that India ranks 31st in the world in infant mortality. While the standard of living is average, malnutrition, infant and maternal mortality rates are out of control.

This dark reality needs to be confronted first by the leadership which is in a hurry to become a world superpower and is beating the drums overnight. These disturbing statistics have taken a toll on the country’s healthcare system. Is it not the reality that draws attention to the basic issues of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, superstition? We have from time to time pretended to be asleep, while world organizations have given direction from time to time. Several surveys have been conducted by central government agencies, which reveal the same burning reality, but no concrete measures are being taken. The slogan ‘Save Meri Beti’ is stuck only with advertisements and ‘Mann Ki Baat’. This means that the ruling party, which is in a hurry to win the election, is unprepared to improve the health index of the country. Much better work must be done before global credit moves forward. Social stigma should be eradicated, child mortality, malnutrition should be stopped in time.

Several schemes have been implemented in the country for the last several years to eradicate hunger and malnutrition. But due to their ineffective implementation, many beneficiaries are deprived of the benefits of these schemes. In addition, there is a lot of injustice going on in these schemes. No one will go to bed hungry in this country, even if farmers work hard to distribute food to the needy and prevent food wastage at various levels. Malnutrition is not just a problem of overeating, it requires a balanced, nutritious diet for all. Agricultural scientists in the country must understand the challenge of making nutritious food and producing such varieties in cereals, pulses, oilseeds and vegetables. Many countries in Africa have been traveling towards eradicating malnutrition by producing rich varieties of rice, wheat and millet, including yams, and spreading them among farmers.

In developed countries such as the United States, the Department of Agriculture provides guidelines for a healthy daily diet for its citizens. These guidelines, called ‘My Plate’, are constantly changing in accordance with the ongoing research findings. Similar guidelines are issued by several European countries. At such times, research for malnutrition and its wide spread should be taken forward as a movement in the country. Experts say there is a need to consider the integration of public health and nutrition. To eradicate hunger and malnutrition, the government will also have to focus on increasing the income of the poor including farmers and agricultural laborers in the country and increasing awareness among them about nutritious food. The gap between rich and poor is increasing continuously in the country. There is a need to bridge this gap through balanced development.

Vikas Parasram Meshram works in the development sector
[email protected]

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