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Malnutrition, Engulfing India’s Future Generation

Pooja Pooja,Shimla, INDIA
Feb 22 2007, 7:13 am GMT

malnutrition_50There is enough food in the world for every person to lead a healthy and productive life, but hundreds of millions of people go to bed hungry every night, while large numbers of others suffer from obesity.

If we talk about India, we say that it has enough capital to equip itself against the endemic problem of malnourishment but the ratio is higher as compared to undernourished children in sub-Saharan Africa.

The average Indian child gets a rather poor start in life. Owing to under-nutrition, poor health care systems and poverty, the kids are condemned to stumble right from the time of their birth.

Statistical ratio depicts:

1. Nearly, 46% of Indian children under the age of three suffer from malnutrition in relation with about 35% in sub-Saharan Africa and only 8% in China.

2. If we look across the states, we find that the ratio of malnutrition is 55.1% in Madhya Pradesh while 54.4% in Bihar.

3. Children are dying from malnutrition right at the doorstep of Mumbai, India’s financial capital. Last year, it accounted for nearly 1,100 children’s death below the age of six.

Who actually are the sufferers?

Many of the victims were children of migrant workers, who suffer from economic deprivation linked with unemployment.

Malnutrition also stems from the low status of women in Indian families. The nutritional needs of pregnant women are given inadequate attention.

Need for a Re-Think

These findings postulate that the economy is elevating social elite and middle class and have nearly neglected half of its 1.1 billion people.

India’s economy is more than double that of the whole of Africa. The country has the sort of budget, foreign exchange reserves, transport infrastructure, human resources and stable political environment that are the envy of most sub-Saharan countries.

Yet its child undernourishment levels are worse than Ethiopia’s and on a par with those of Eritrea and Burkina Faso.

Till some extend the problem could be curbed by encouraging gender equality at all levels in society and the first step towards it must begin at homes, where all the male members of a family must inculcate the idea of respecting women folk.

What do you say!

While criticizing the lack of large-scale action internationally and within countries to tackle malnutrition, improving nutrition could add two to three percent to the growth rates within a country.

Also, there’s a need to build commitment among government partners to not only invest in nutrition but also invest in the right kinds of things for nutrition.

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