New Delhi: Despite such growth and improvement in reducing child stunting, India is still with around 46.6 million stunted children and is home to over 30.9% of all the stunted children under the age of five which is highest in the world. Nearly 30% of the deaths of all global childhood deaths are attributed to chronic malnutrition in India. It is a well-known fact that sufficient nutrition plays a very significant role in children’s growth and development, including the socio-economic status of the child.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malnutrition refers to the deficiencies, excess, or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and nutrients. World Bank indicates that India has one world’s highest demographics of children suffering from malnutrition and said to be double that of Sub-Saharan Africa if this current prevalence continued.
As there are various factors that ensure that every single human receives sufficient nutrition, similarly, there are variables which contribute to the occurrence of malnutrition in India. Income plays the most significant role in healthcare.
“In India, there is a very wide problem of uncertainty of income among the rural population (especially agricultural laborers) marginalized groups and the informal sector which indirectly affects sufficient nutrition. There are lack of awareness among the people about the sufficient health and nutrients wholesome, balanced and healthy diet, child feeding and caring practices. Therefore it is imperative to run an effective nutrition communication campaigns in schools, public places, print, and social media” said Ms. Nidhi Dhawan, HOD – Dietetics, Saroj Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi.
In India, open defecation remains a severe problem as a major proportion of the population do not pay attention to the usage of clean toilets. Poor sanitary conditions caused by open defecation and other issues, in turn, lead to the incidence of diarrhoeal diseases which make children susceptible to stunting. There are many other factors such as environmental, geographical, agricultural and cultural factors including various other factors have contributive effects resulting in malnutrition.
According to Ms. Nidhi Dhawan, though malnutrition is one of the major problems in India, it can be solved when proper preventive measures will be taken. Some of the major causes and preventive measures include food security, breastfeeding, fortifies foods and health facilities. If the government and the citizens decide to work together to implement these steps, that day is not far away from where the whole country would be free from malnutrition.
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