Hyderabad: India has been ranked 102 among 117 countries on the 2019 Global Hunger Index released by Welthungerhilfe on October 15. Welthungerhilfe is a German non-governmental aid agency working in the fields of development cooperation and emergency aid. The country has dropped by one rank from 2018’s 103 and is now around the same level as Nigeria and Sierra Leone. Besides, India is far below its adversary, Pakistan.
India’s hunger problem has steadily accelerated since 2014, says the report. In 2014, India’s rank in the global hunger index stood at 55. In the years that followed, this ranking dropped to 97 in 2016 and subsequently 100 in 2017. This year, India is at a dangerous level of hunger, adds the report.
India’s position is worse than Ethiopia, Angola, and Rwanda’s. Also, our country is way behind Sri Lanka (66), Nepal (73), Bangladesh (88) and Pakistan (94). According to the report, India’s child wasting rate (low weight for height) is high at 20.8 per cent. This is the highest wasting rate of any country included in the report. After India, Yemen and Djibouti are the other two countries where wasting is most prevalent.
Besides, as per the report, India’s child stunting rate is 37.9 per cent. This rate is also categorised as very high in terms of the country’s public health significance. In India, only 9.6 per cent of kids between six and 23 months of age are provided with a minimum acceptable diet. The report opines that as open defecation is still practised in the country, this consequently put the children’s growth and development at risk.
Another alarming report by Lancet paper on child and maternal malnutrition report published in September for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India similarly revealed some shocking rate of malnutrition in India. It discussed how, from 1990 to 2017, malnutrition continues to be the most severe public health challenge across the country. As per the report, malnutrition was the predominant risk factor accounting for 68.2 per cent of the total under-5 deaths in every state of India in 2017.
According to the study, if these trends estimated up to 2017 continue in India, there would be 8.9% excess prevalence for low birth weight, 9.6% for stunting, 4.8% for underweight, 11.7% for anaemia in children, and 13·8% for anaemia in women relative to the 2022 targets. There will also be 10.4% excess prevalence for wasting, 14.5% excess prevalence for overweight and 10.7% less exclusive breastfeeding in 2030.
India has been trying to address child malnutrition for many decades through several initiatives. The report suggests more comprehensive and inclusive policies addressing all of the critical determinants of child malnutrition alongside nutrient-based interventions to accelerate the reduction of child growth failure in India