India’s low rank in Global Health Index, 2020

Source- The Hindu

Syllabus- GS 2- Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Context- India has been ranked at 94 among 107 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2020.

How the Global Hunger Index [GHI] scores are calculated?

The GHI scores are calculated each year to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger. It is calculated on the basis of four indicators-

  1. Undernourishment: Share of the population with insufficient caloric intake.
  2. Child Wasting: Share of children under age five who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition.
  3. Child Stunting: Share of children under age five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition.
  4. Child Mortality: The mortality rate of children under the age of five.

What are the key findings of the index?

  • The country’s score of 27.2 is the worst among BRICS countries, and inferior to Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.
  • India’s child wasting rate was extremely high at 20.8% – the highest.
  • The child stunting rate in India was 37.4 %,
  • The child wasting was at 17.3 %.
  • The undernourishment rate of India was at 14% and child mortality at 3.7 %.

What are the reasons for low scores and its possible solution?

  1. The national policy-
  • Has no appetite for a radical transformation in the delivery of adequate nutrition especially to women and children.
  • Has paid inadequate attention to achieving diet diversity through the PDS.
  1. Inequality- There is huge inequality because the fruits of growth are enjoyed by selected sections of society.
  • Stunting prevalence is 10.1% higher in rural areas compared to urban areas.
  1. Anaemia- One in two women of reproductive age is anaemic.
  2. COVID-19- The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic downturn are exacerbating food and nutrition insecurity for millions of people.

Possible solution-

  1. Diverse diet- Nourishment through a diverse diet that includes fat, protein and micronutrients.
  2. Strengthening the Public distribution system, with a focus on women’s health, would lead to healthier pregnancies, and stronger supplemental nutrition under the ICDS scheme would give children a better chance at all-round development.

Way forward-

  • Food should be priced not only by its weight or volume but also by its nutrient density, its freedom from contamination, and its contribution to ecosystem services and social justice.
  • The benefits can reach more people if the government spends more to improve public education, health care, nutrition, social security and gender empowerment.
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