Why Millions Of Indian Children Are Malnourished, Even In The 21st Century

Posted on October 9, 2016 in Society

By Aishwarya Raj Ahluwalia:

India is a diverse country with many cultures. It is a nation famous for its art and literature. Yet, India lacks something. Yes, the basic need of food. India is the second most populous country in the world after China. How much percentage of this population is healthy and fit to serve the nation?

We all talk of equality. But, are we really following this concept in practice? When we travel across our nation, we come across a large number of people. Many of them are crippled by poverty and consequently end up suffering from malnutrition. The prevalence of malnutrition in our country may make us doubt various schemes put forward by our government to safeguard the human resources of the country.

In a report from 2013, a two and a half year old girl called Rabina weighed only 6.5 kgs. It is quite abnormal as a well nourished child of that age must weigh atleast 8-9 kgs. This is a case reported from the district of Shivpuri of Madhya Pradesh. This happened because of the family’s inability to afford protein rich food.

Similar cases have been reported from Dholpur district of Rajasthan. But the irony is that despite the increase in the country’s GDP since 1991, malnutrition is still prevalent in our society.

According to the Registrar General of India in 2010, the under 5 mortality rate was 59 per 1000 births. It was one of the highest in the world. The government has implemented few programs such as ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme), which is the world’s largest program to tackle the problem of child malnutrition.

Other initiatives include the National Rural Health Mission and mid day meal programs.

The causes of malnutrition are innumerable. The main cause is water pollution. A study conducted claims that 80% of India’s surface water is polluted. It is polluted largely by human waste, agricultural waste and industrial effluents. Human excreta and other wastes are thrown into the water bodies in rural areas as well as the urban slums.

The direct flow of the untreated industrial effluents and chemicals result in changes in the consumer’s body and this results in abnormality. We can conclude that industries slow down the process of progress. They have turned out to be a “necessary evil”.

A study revealed that a gram of fecal matter contains millions of bacteria, cysts, viruses, etc. When they are consumed indirectly through contaminated food and water, the body’s ability to fight against diseases reduce. Due to the poverty faced by a large number of families, they are forced to rely on food which might be contaminated with such microbes and pathogens. Eventually, this results in stunted growth, especially of kids. Joe Mediath, the chairman of a non profit organisation called Gram Vikas, that works on sanitation in India has been putting strenuous effort in eradicating poverty and developing India. There have also been a few reports which said that when people defecate in the open, several organisms feed on it and spread diseases.

Another cause is the lack of awareness due to illiteracy. People do not know the consequences of not giving children vitamin rich supplements. The government has initiated programs which promote vaccination and other health based schemes in order to prevent any kind of illness.

There are few home remedies available to tackle this issue :

  1. Healthy and hygienic breastfeeding practices so that the child can combat health problems to certain extent.
  2. Good awareness about the nutritional needs of the infant.
  3. Relying on safe and pure drinking water.

The government must also give equal health and medical access to the poor. It should also expand its network of providing nutritious food supplements .

Let us hope that by 2025, India will be a developed nation and free of malnutrition. Let’s join our hands for a better tomorrow.

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Image Source: Flickr

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