Malnutrition Free India
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Government has accorded high priority to the issue of malnutrition and is making serious efforts to address this issue. Government implements Anganwadi Services Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyaan, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana and Scheme for Adolescent Girls under the Umbrella Integrated Child Development Services Scheme (ICDS) as targeted interventions for Children under 6 years, Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers and Adolescent Girls, throughout the country. POSHAN Abhiyaan aims to reduce malnutrition in a phased manner, through a synergised and result oriented approach. Further, Mission Poshan 2.0, an integrated nutrition support programme has been announced in budget 2021-22 for all States/UTs. It seeks to strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach and outcomes with focus on developing practices that nurture health, wellness and immunity to disease and malnutrition. All these schemes address in one or other aspects related to nutrition and have the potential to improve nutritional outcomes in the country.
Global Hunger Index (GHI) is published by ‘Concern Worldwide & Welthungerhilfe. The GHI scores are based on the values of four component indicators, viz., Undernourishment among population, Child Wasting, Child Stunting and Child Mortality. GHI is a tool for measuring and tracking hunger at global, regional, and country levels. Global Hunger Index (GHI) does not reflect India’s true picture as it is a flawed measure of ‘Hunger’. It should not be taken at face value as it is neither appropriate nor representative of hunger prevalent in a country. Out of its four indicators, only one indicator, i.e., undernourishment, is directly related to hunger. The indicator “undernourishment among population” in GHI is obtained through a gallup survey, which has completely disregarded Government’s economic response to Covid-19 of providing free food grains to 80 crore National Food Security Act beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojna.
The data on nutritional indicators in the country on the other hand, is captured under the National Family Health Surveys conducted periodically by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Under the Survey, the level of malnutrition among children is assessed using the WHO standards and for adults the Body Mass Index cut-offs recommended by WHO are used to assess the prevalence of under and over nutrition. Further, NFHS also provides comprehensive information on other determinants of malnutrition, viz., prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies like anaemia, food intake and infant and young child feeding and care practices including data on immunization, maternal health and nutrition, etc. The data provided by the national level survey is used to guide policies and programmes to address the nutritional challenges faced by the country.