New India cannot be nutritionally deficient – the New Indian Express
Over 67% of children under five in India are anemic. This translates to about seven in ten children suffering from iron deficiency. The result of phase 2 of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) reveals the dangerous demographic pattern of a country that wants to be a global economic superpower. Let’s take a look at pregnant women in the 15-49 age group and their number stands at 52.2%. For non-pregnant women, the number is higher at 57.2%. In terms of the economic burden of anemia, the loss it inflicts is probably as much as the country’s health budget.
In the 1970s, India launched the National Nutritional Anemia Prophylaxis Program (NNAPP) to combat deficiency. In 2019, he rolled out the Anemia Mukt Bharat campaign. In two years and after Covid-19, the numbers have not only swelled but are even frightening in some states. Assam’s anemia scenario for children 6-59 months of age is 68.4% in NFHS-5, up 32% from NFHS-4. Chhattisgarh’s figures jumped to 67.2%, an increase of 25.6%. In Odisha, where malnutrition has remained acute, the anemia figures are just as worrying: from 44.6% in 2015-16, it rose to 64.2%. Anemia is a major handicap factor in children as well as the cause of death in newborns and mothers. In addition, the NFHS-5 shows that the parameters of stunting, wasting and underweight did not show much improvement compared to the last survey.
All of this calls for a new nutrition planning strategy for the country as well as for individual states where the situation remains grim. Changing diets, using sustainable local solutions and strengthening surveillance and monitoring systems would be the need of the moment. There should also be regional planning for nutrition programs. It is important to know whether the pandemic has interrupted access to nutrition for children and women who rely heavily on supplementary nutrition programs and to rework the planning. The dream of a new India cannot be built on a large population of children and mothers deprived of nutritional adequacy.