Wednesday, October 29, 2014

'One-third India's women, children underweight'

New Delhi, Oct 29 (IANS) India’s improved ranking in the Global Hunger Index is good news, but the country still has a long way to go as one-third of its women and children under five still underweight, experts said Wednesday.

India improved its position from 63rd in 2013 to 55th in 2014 in the Global Hunger Index released recently.

“India has clearly made progress towards improving nutrition, but the road ahead is still long,” said Purnima Menon, Senior Research Fellow at IFPRI and co-director of POSHAN.

“The evidence – from within India and from other countries – tells us that gains in maternal and child nutrition come from actions in several sectors and that leadership must also come from all levels,” she said.

“The data released by the government which was used in computing Global Hunger Index has shown a decline in under-nutrition. It has dramatically improved India’s rank,” she said while briefing the media about a conference on under-nutrition being held here.

The two-day conference is being jointly hosted by Transform Nutrition and POSHAN (Partnerships and Opportunities to Strengthen and Harmonize Actions for Nutrition in India), both initiatives led by IFPRI.

Pramod Kumar Joshi of the IFPRI said focus now needed to be put on how to effectively implement the national food security act.

“How it can be revised. We are also looking at various options like Public Distribution System and direct cash transfer.”

Lawrence Haddad, who has worked extensively to improve the nutrition situation in Maharashtra, said in that state, there were still issues like open defecation, which were affecting overall health.

“The decline in under-nutrition rates did not happen overnight. It took a lot of time around 10-15 years,” he said.

Stuart Gillespie, senior research fellow at IFPRI and CEO of Transform Nutrition said: “Leadership has been absolutely pivotal. Inadequate capacity is the reason for failure”.

“India is unusual in that even the delivery of nutrition-specific interventions requires two ministries. The health ministry and the women and child development ministry have to work together,” he added.

Shenggen Fan, Director IFPRI, listed three ways to deal with nutrition issues in India namely — improving agriculture, social protection and specific interventions like sanitation.

'One-third India's women, children underweight'


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