QUESTION : “The reasons for malnutrition/ hunger are multidimensional” considering the above statement discuss the factors contributing to malnutrition and also suggest appropriate measure to improve malnutrition in India.
STEPPING OUT OF THE SHADOW OF INDIA’S MALNUTRITION
Malnutrition and Food Security in India
WHY IN NEWS ?
The stock of the food insecurity and malnutrition in India with the aid of two recently published reports.
REPORTS ABOUT FOOD SECURITY IN INDIA :
- Two recent reports — “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020” by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and the 2020 Hunger report, “Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow” by the Bread for the World Institute – document staggering facts about Indian food insecurity and malnutrition.
- The reports use two globally recognised indicators, Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU) and the Prevalence of Moderate or Severe Food Insecurity (PMSFI).
- Using these indicators, the reports indicate India to be one of the most food-insecure countries, with the highest rates of stunting and wasting among other South Asian countries.
COMPARING RATE OF REDUCTION IN MALNUTRITION WITH NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES :
- Malnutrition in India has not declined as much as the decline has occurred in terms of poverty.
- On the contrary, the reduction is found to be much lower than in neighbouring China, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.
- The decline in China is way higher than that of India, even though it had started with lower levels of PoU in 2000.
FOOD SECURITY DURING PANDEMIC AND NFSA, 2013 :
- Two crucial elements still got left out in the National Food Security Act – 2013.
- These two elements are the non-inclusion of nutritious food items such as pulses and exclusion of potential beneficiaries.
- Because of this, the current COVID-19 pandemic would make the situation worse in general, more so for vulnerable groups.
- Though States have temporarily expanded their coverage in the wake of the crisis, the problem of malnutrition is likely to deepen in the coming years.
- Hence, a major shift in policy has to encompass the immediate universalisation of the Public Distribution System which should definitely not be temporary in nature.
PREVALENCE OF MODERATE OR SEVERE FOOD INSECURITY (PMSFI) :
- These findings also get substantiated through Food Insecurity Experience Scale survey, which covers almost 90% of the world’s population.
- Because it is not allowed to be conducted in India, direct estimates are not available.
- However, estimates indicate that between 2014-16, about 29.1% of the total population in India was food insecure, which rose up to 32.9% in 2017-19.
- In terms of absolute number, about 375 million of the total population was moderately or severely food insecure in 2014, which went to about 450 million in 2019.
Why National Food Security Act – 2013 failed to tackle malnutrition?
Despite the act ensuring every citizen “access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices”, two crucial elements that still got left out which were –
- The non-inclusion of nutritious food items such as pulses
- Exclusion of potential beneficiaries.
AIMS OF THE POSHAN ABHIYAN OR NATIONAL NUTRITION MISSION (NNM) :
- Ending all forms of malnutrition by 2030 is also the target of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG-2) of Zero Hunger.
- Towards this end, NNM aims to reduce stunting, underweight and low birth weight each by 2 per cent per annum.
- It aims to reduce anaemia among children, adolescent girls and women, each by 3 per cent per annum by 2022.
- However, the Global Burden of Disease Study 1990–2017 has estimated that if the current trend continues, India cannot achieve these targets under NNM by 2022.
STATE OF FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION IN THE WORLD (SOFI) 2020 REPORT :
Recently, the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2020 report revealed that between 8.3 crore and 13 crore people globally are likely to go hungry this year due to the economic recession triggered by COVID-19
ABOUT THE REPORT :
- The SOFI report was released in New York on the sidelines of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development which tracks the progress of nations towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
- It is produced jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Its first edition was brought out in 2017
- The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 (SOFI 2020) report presents the most recent and authoritative estimates of the extent of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition around the world.
- This year, the report includes a special focus on transforming food systems for affordable healthy diets.
- It analyses the cost and affordability of healthy diets around the world, by region and in different development contexts.
WAY FORWARD :
- As the National Nutrition Mission continues to play an important role in India’s endeavour against malnutrition, India needs to now accelerate actions on multiple fronts. The projections are optimistic, and will need to be re-adjusted for the Covid-19 disruptions to health and nutrition services.
- There is a need to quickly graduate to a POSHAN-plus strategy which apart from continued strengthening the four pillars of the mission (Technology, Convergence, behavioural change and Capacity building), also requires a renewed focus on other social determinants in addition to addressing the governance challenges of the National Health Mission and ICDS delivery mechanisms.
- There has to be distribution of quality food items and innovative interventions such as the setting up of community kitchens among other things.
- An immediate universalisation of PDS , distribution of quality food items and community kitchens are a few solutions.
- There is a need for systematic data collection at the district level for policy formulation and programme.
- Need collaboration with civil society to educate women about family planning and child nourishment
This year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the UN World Food Programme, which should bring some of the focus back on these pressing issues of undernourishment and hunger in India.