Nutrition Security should be part of our covid response

Source: LiveMint

Relevance: To study the nutritional status of India

Synopsis: The nutrition scenario is not looking good in India. The pandemic has further worsened it. There is an urgent need for policymakers to focus on nutrition.

Findings of India’s 2015-16 Health Survey:

  • One in every three children in India is stunted.
  • More than 50% of adolescent girls and pregnant women are anaemic.
  • Almost 80% of mothers do not receive full antenatal care during their pregnancy

This was the situation when all government-run health and nutrition programmes were fully functional and easily accessible. Now, the situation has much more worsened during the corona times. Pandemic has had a negative impact on people:

  • There is a decline in uptake of health services like antenatal checkups, counselling, consumption of micronutrient supplements among pregnant women
  • There is a decrease in dietary diversity due to food insecurity led to adverse consequences on maternal and child nutrition
  • There is a reduction in food intake among 90% of the households
  • Disruption in the supply of Mid-Day Meals because of the closing of schools.
  • Loss of jobs has made the houses more vulnerable as now they struggle for basic food

How to address the nutrition crisis?

  1. Food and Nutrition Security: It is crucial to address the “hidden hunger” problem, especially among vulnerable communities like pregnant & lactating women, children’s etc while making policies of food security programmes in accordance with current needs.
    • Pandemic emphasized the need for local nutritious food & community-based initiatives to tackle the problem of food and nutrition insecurity. Poshan Matka Initiative in MP and promotion of Nutrition Gardens in UP is a step in this direction
  2. Micro Nutrient supplementation: Various initiatives have been done by many state governments like distribution of iron and folic acid, calcium tablets to pregnant & adolescent girls, Vitamin A supplementation to children to address the nutritional requirements & immunity problems.
  3. Food Fortification: It is the process of deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply. Various states like MP, Kerala, and Odisha have introduced fortified staples & rice in their social safety net programmes. The centre should also adopt fortified staples nationwide in their safety net programmes

Way forward

  • We must realize that nutrition cannot wait.
  • Policymakers should look beyond calorie intake and focus on nutrition.

Terms to know

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