PRLog - Aug. 14, 2014 - DELHI/NCR, India -- With government prioritizing on growth and development, it feels shameful that India leads other countries in having the maximum number of malnourished children. With mental and physical deficits, children less than five years of age suffer from malnutrition and each day around 1,500 children die of malnutrition, challenging the faulty yardsticks over the last 20 years.
A report by UNICEF stated that the future of approximately 6 million children is at risk, as statistics reveal that 1 in 3 of the world's malnourished children live in India. If we count the numbers state wise, in Bihar, the proportion of under-weight children is nearly 50%, Andhra Pradesh (37%), Uttar Pradesh (36%), Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh (both 32%). Moreover in Delhi, 35% of the nearly 7 lakh children, attending anganwadis were found to be underweight, which is highly devastating figure.
While Indian government researching on other fatal and life threatening diseases, the problem of malnutrition in children remains the highest hitting ailment. Statistics reveal that Indian children are affected by malnutrition 20 times more as compared to other countries. It is difficult to believe that the mortality rate of children under five years of age continues to be highest in our country, which is soon to become the world’s largest workforce.
Though number of strategies and policies has been introduced for ensuring the food security to 1.27 billion population in India, but looking at the current scenario, malnutrition deserves far greater attention and investment for providing free meals and maternity benefits for pregnant women, lactating mothers, children between the ages of six months and 14 years, and homeless people.
The policymakers need to look at the seriousness and the scale of child malnutrition problem in order to make India healthier and stronger from the bottom of the pyramid. The Lancet series stated that India does not even have to look far to see progress. If India succeeds in eliminating undernutrition in young children, it can boost the GNP by up to 11%. Excellent initiatives taken in the state of Maharashtra has reduced the percentage from 39% to 23%, which can be taken as a good example to pave a way towards a healthy nation. Children are the future of tomorrow and their basic requirements must be the government’s priority for realising a brighter future of tomorrow.
CPP, which is pro-actively involved in nation building processes in the public domain, advocates that in order to reduce child mortality rate and malnutrition in India, there has to be some basic malnutrition awareness program (imparting clinical nutritional guidelines), strengthening the village level government facilities and implementing innovative practices which will be the key stride to have greater impact. We believe that science and economic growth should not be addressed alone, call for stronger commitment towards social development is equally important, which are already in India’s policy framework.
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Centre for Public Policy
Centre for Public Policy