File Photo

Malnutrition Still A Huge Challenge For India, Says Global Nutrition Report

‘There is a real risk that, as nations strive to control the (COVID-19) virus, the gains they have made in reducing hunger and malnutrition will be lost,’ the report warns.

Team Poshan | May 13, 2020

Malnutrition still remains one of India’s biggest challenges, according to the 2020 Global Nutrition Report released worldwide May 12.

The annual report, which captures the burden of malnutrition at the global, regional, sub-regional and country levels, is billed as the world’s leading independent assessment of the state of global nutrition.

Also Read| How Timely Nutrition Saved This Little Girl's Life

Although the report was written before the current coronavirus pandemic, “its emphasis on nutritional well-being for all, particularly the most vulnerable, has a heightened significance in the face of this new global threat. The need for more equitable, resilient and sustainable food and health systems has never been more urgent,” says a foreword to the report. “There is a real risk that, as nations strive to control the virus, the gains they have made in reducing hunger and malnutrition will be lost,” it warns.

Calling for “a pro-equity agenda that mainstreams nutrition into food systems and health systems, supported by strong financing and accountability,” the report says that “with only five years left to meet the 2025 global nutrition targets, time is running out. We must focus action where the need is greatest for maximum impact.

Also Read| Working Towards An Anemia-Mukt Bharat

“Inequity is a cause of malnutrition – both undernutrition and overweight, obesity and other diet-related chronic diseases. Inequities in food and health systems exacerbate inequalities in
nutrition outcomes that in turn can lead to more inequity, perpetuating a vicious cycle,” it says.

In a section on India which maps progress against global targets for 10 specific parameters set for 2019, three had no data, one showed “some progress”, while six were marked “no progress or worsening.”However, the under-five mortality (per 1000 births) rate showed a clear decline from 43.6 per cent in 2015 to 36.6 per cent in 2018.

Other statistics for India (2016 figures) show that it has 0.76 physicians, 2.09 nurses and midwifes and 0.58 community health workers per 1000 people.

“The 2020 Global Nutrition Report looks beyond global and national patterns, revealing significant inequalities in nutrition outcomes within countries and populations. Based on the best-available data, in-depth analysis and expert opinion rooted in evidence, the report identifies critical actions to achieve nutrition equity. Everyone deserves access to healthy, affordable food and quality nutrition care,” the report says.