New Delhi: Several experts and researchers in malnutrition assembled ahead of the National Nutrition Week (Sept 1-7) at a workshop organized by the humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger (India) to discuss various aspects of what they called “a silent emergency.” The participants shared insights regarding myths about acute malnutrition, community-based management of acute malnutrition program, and latest statistics and information on malnutrition.
Dr Basanta Kar, CEO, The Coalition for Food & Nutrition Security, spoke about food and nutrition security not only in terms of food consumption but also associated linkages with climate change, agriculture, and markets. He highlighted how women’s nutrition affects the economy. He said, “Several policy reforms are required to tackle the challenge of malnutrition. The country needs a National Food and Nutrition Security Act to ensure sustainable food and nutrition security, food safety, and bio-safety and bio-diversity.”
Dr Kar called for the establishment of Food and Nutrition Commission headed by the Prime Minister. “We need to develop a national policy and multi-sectoral approach to address India’s double burden on malnutrition – under-nutrition and obesity – in line with the WHA global nutrition targets 2025. In the short term, an India-wide nutrition and micronutrient survey should be undertaken to understand the micronutrient status at the community level,” he added.
The statistics on malnutrition are alarming. Over 1 million children die in India due to under-nutrition related causes (UNICEF 2016). More than half (58.4 percent) of all children in the country are anaemic (NFHS4) and nearly 40 percent are either stunted or underweight.