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India is facing multiple burdens of malnutrition, says Global Nutrition Report

India is facing multiple burdens of malnutrition, says Global Nutrition Report

With the lowest rank among 100 countries, India is vulnerable on sanitation and other underlying determinants for undernutrition.

In India, stunting for under fives may have declined by over 10 million. (Photo: Reuters) In India, stunting for under fives may have declined by over 10 million. (Photo: Reuters)

Public health risk due to malnutrition - including undernutrition, obesity, and micronutrient deficiencies - is a concern for every country. A roundtable held in New Delhi yesterday - From Data Deserts to Fertile Facts: Unleashing the power of data on nutrition in India - discussed the role of data at multiple levels for action on nutrition in India. This was part of The Global Nutrition Report, which was launched by International Food Policy Research Institute in November 2014, tracking worldwide progress for 193 UN countries in improving their nutrition status. The report aims to contribute to country-led efforts to strengthen accountability and accelerate the reduction of malnutrition.

Dr Laxmikant Palo, Health Advisor, Save The Children, a leading organisation for child rights, said on the sidelines of the event, "The country needs to address the operational challenge in nutrition now. Also, how other sectors such as sanitation, agriculture prioritise the nutrition agenda within their agenda is important." Palo also noted the previous National Family Health Survey was conducted in 2005-06, after which there's no data available, which makes it difficult to understand where the country stands on nutrition. "How to take a decision, this report [The Global Nutrition Report's India chapter] has some guidelines," he added.

New preliminary data from India (2013-2014 Rapid Survey on Children) suggested a faster improvement in the reduction of malnutrition than anticipated - stunting for under fives may have declined by over 10 million. Yet, with the lowest rank among 100 countries, India is vulnerable on sanitation and other underlying determinants for undernutrition.

The report also said success stories such as stunting decline in Maharashtra show importance of multi-sector coordination and sustained commitment from government and civil society.

"The Global Nutrition Report aims to contribute to country-led efforts to strengthen accountability, share learning about what is working, and highlight bottlenecks to progress and how they may be overcome," said Lawrence Haddad, a co-author of the Global Nutrition Report and a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Save The Children's Palo recommended a survey around nutrition every three years in India.