Three girls — aged eight, four and two years recently died in Delhi after succumbing to starvation. These children had died of malnourishment. On one hand our PM is shouting “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” and ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ kind of slogans and on the other hand, Delhi CM has always emphasised on children’s welfare but such cases of poverty have gone unnoticed. We celebrated World Health Day this year, it is imperative to think back on the many reports we continue to see on children’s deaths due to malnutrition. Despite India’s 50 per cent increase in GDP since 1991, more than one-third of the world’s malnourished children live in the country. Among these, half of the children under three years old are underweight and a third of the wealthiest children are over-nutriented. One of the major causes of malnutrition in India is economic inequality. People are seeking reservation in the name of caste, creed, and community but economically underprivileged citizens irrespective of any community needs reservations. Due to the low social status of some population groups, their diet often lacks in both quality and quantity. Women who suffer from malnutrition are less likely to have healthy babies. Even after 70 years of independence, our country could not fight poverty; many governments have come and gone, but the situation remains the same.
Deficiencies in nutrition inflict long-term damage to both individuals and society. Compared to their better-fed peers, nutrition-deficient individuals are more likely to have infectious diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis, which lead to a higher mortality rate. In addition, nutrition-deficient individuals are less productive at work. Low productivity not only gives them low pay that traps them in a vicious circle of under-nutrition but also brings inadequacy to the society, especially in India where labour is a major input factor for economic production. On the other hand, over-nutrition also has severe consequences. In India, national obesity rates in 2010 were 14 per cent for women and 18 per cent for men with some urban areas having rates as high as 40 per cent. Obesity causes several non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases. It is generally caused to those people who can afford to eat several meals but not much physical work. Exactly opposite is the starvation, a person works for hours but his income is not enough to feed his children a one-time meal.
Sorrowfully, approximately 45 per cent of child deaths can be attributed to various forms of malnutrition; in India, about 50 per cent of deaths in children under five years of age is due to malnutrition. Hence, it is time we introspect on the reasons as to why we are still unable to curb this menace, once and for all. Around 21 per cent of all children, fewer than 5 years of age, suffer from slaughter in India. In Mumbai, equal to or more than 15 per cent wasting levels in children are considered to be critical. This situation calls for collective efforts involving all the stakeholders to reduce severe acute malnutrition with particular reference to wasting in the city. There are 820 million chronically hungry people in the world.
Over 7,000 Indians die of malnutrition every day. Over 25 lakh Indians die of starvation every year. The number of starved people in India is always more than the number of people below the official poverty line. Solutions matter more than the statistics as long as there is not a single hunger death. The Central and state government should stop the blame game and collectively address such issues. What is the use of digital India, metros and much more when a large number of population is dying of hunger?
Source: Afternoon Voice