The latest government figures on malnutrition show that the malnutrition crisis in India has deepened. At present, more than 33 lakh children are malnourished in the country, out of which more than half are severely malnourished. The latest figures have been given by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development in response to a question asked under the Right to Information. Of these 33 lakh children, more than 17 lakh are severely malnourished. These figures are for 34 states and union territories. The names of Maharashtra, Bihar and Gujarat are at the top of the state wise list. These data were entered on the Nutrition Tracker app, an app developed to monitor nutrition programmes.
These figures show a more worrying situation when compared with the situation a year ago. Between November 2020 and October 14, 2021, there has been a 91 percent jump in the number of severely malnourished children. Difference in figures However, a major difference between the figures for both the years is that last year the number of severely malnourished children between the age of six months to six years was made public by the Center to the states and union territories. This year these figures have been taken directly from the nutrition tracker, where the Anganwadis themselves had given their information. There is one more difference. The age of the children has not been mentioned in this year’s data.
However, definitions of malnutrition are global. According to the World Health Organization, severely malnourished (SAM) children are those who have a very low weight-to-length ratio, or whose arm circumference is less than 115 millimeters. One level below this, that is, severely malnourished (MAM) children are those whose arm circumference is between 115 and 125 millimeters. Both the conditions have a serious impact on the health of the children. In the SAM stage, the weight of the children is very less according to their height. The effect of malnutrition The immune system of such children is also very weak and they are nine times more likely to die due to some serious disease. Children with the MAM stage are also more likely to get sick and die.
Apart from Maharashtra, Bihar and Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Assam and Telangana also have a high number of malnourished children. Perhaps the most shameful thing for India is that even in the national capital Delhi, which is counted among the world’s most famous cities, more than one lakh children are malnourished. Apart from this, India’s position on the Global Hunger Index also fell further. In 116 countries, where India was ranked 94th in 2020, it has fallen to 101st place in 2021. India has now lagged behind even its neighboring countries Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.