- Last year, India stood at 102 amidst 117 countries.
- Fourteen percent of India’s population is underfed.
- India has witnessed a drop in the under-five mortality rate.
THD NewsDesk, New Delhi: Amongst 107 nations, India stood at 94th position in the Global Hunger Index 2020. It is under the ‘serious’ hunger section with specialists accusing inferior implementation processes, absence of efficient monitoring, siloed strategy in intercepting malnutrition, and inadequate administration by large states for such a low ranking.
Last year, India stood at 102 amidst 117 countries.
The neighboring countries Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Pakistan, are under the ‘serious’ section but were positioned higher than India in this year’s hunger index. Bangladesh was ranked 75, Myanmar and Pakistan stood at 78th and 88th position, respectively.
The report showed that Nepal stood at 73rd and Sri Lanka at 64th position under the ‘moderate’ hunger category.
On Friday, the Global Hunger Index website that tracks hunger and malnutrition showed that seventeen nations, including China, Belarus, Ukraine, Turkey, Cuba, and Kuwait, shared the top rank with less than five GHI scores.
As per the report, 14 percent of India’s population is underfed.
It also revealed that the country registered a 37.4 percent stunting rate among children under five and a wasting rate of 17.3 percent. The under-five fatality rate stood at 3.7 percent.
Wasting is for children who are underweight for their height, indicating acute malnutrition. Stunting is for children under the age of five who have a low height reflecting chronic undernutrition.
Statistics from 1991 to 2014 for Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan determined that stunting is mostly amidst children from households enduring various types of deprivation, with poor dietary diversity, low levels of maternal wisdom, and household penury.
The report stated that India underwent a drop in under-five mortality throughout this period, directed by reducing deaths from birth asphyxia or trauma, neonatal infections, pneumonia, and diarrhea.
It stated, “However, child mortality, caused by prematurity and low birth weight, increased particularly in poorer states and rural areas. Prevention of prematurity and low birthweight is identified as a key factor with the potential to reduce under-five mortality in India, through actions such as better antenatal care, education, and nutrition as well as reductions in anemia and oral tobacco use.”
Experts believe that inferior implementation methods, lack of adequate monitoring with separate ways to undertaking malnutrition usually results in mediocre nutrition indices.
Purnima Menon, a Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, stated that the administration of large states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh demands an improvement to see a transformation in India’s ranking.
“The national average is affected a lot by the states like UP and Bihar… the states which actually have a combination of high levels of malnutrition and they contribute a lot to the population of the country.”
She said, “Every fifth child born in India is in Uttar Pradesh. So if you have a high level of malnutrition in a state with a high population, it contributes a lot to India’s average. Obviously, then, India’s average will be slow to move.”
Ms. Menon stated that big states with an enormous population and a high starvation burden affect India’s average.
She further stated, “So, if we want a change in India, then we would also need a change in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar.”
Shweta Khandelwal, the head of Nutrition Research and Additional Professor at Public Health Foundation of India, said the country has one of the most impressive portfolios of programs and nutrition policies in the books.
“However, the ground realities are quite dismal.”
She stated, “Research shows that our top-down approach, poor implementation processes, lack of effective monitoring and siloed approaches in tackling malnutrition (missing convergence) often result in poor nutrition indices. We must integrate actions to make public health and nutrition a priority across each sector.”
Ms. Khandelwal advised five steps to control the aggravation of hunger due to the pandemic.
She said, “Safeguard and promote access to nutritious, safe and affordable diets; invest in improving maternal and child nutrition through pregnancy, infancy, and early childhood; re-activate and scale-up services for the early detection and treatment of child wasting; maintain the provision of nutritious and safe school meals for vulnerable children and expand social protection to safeguard access to nutritious diets and essential service.”
She stated it is significant to comprehensively control various kinds of malnutrition rather than a single short-sighted fix.
She stated, “Hunger and undernutrition cannot and should not be fixed by mere calorie provision. All stakeholders steered by robust leadership must pay attention to making balanced healthy diets that are climate-friendly, affordable, and accessible to all.”
Four indicators help in calculating GHI score-
- Child wasting: the share of children under the age of five who are underweight for their height indicating acute undernutrition
- Child stunting: children under the age of five who have a low height, reflects chronic undernutrition
- Child mortality: the mortality rate of children under the age of five
Currently, where people are battling a pandemic, there is a significant battle of hunger for the 14 percent of Indians to stay alive, Daily. Hunger is the