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Tackling Malnutrition in Haryana

31st August 2014

Naya Haryana
Malnutrition the condition that occurs due to unavailability of healthy food and adequate nutrients is one of the biggest concerns of developing nations across the world. In India, malnutrition is something of an epidemic, going by UN reports. UNICEF says that one third of all malnourished children in the world are from our country. About half of all Indian children are chronically malnourished. The enormity of these numbers can be judged by the fact that according to National Rural Health Mission(NRHM), children suffering from acute malnutrition face a risk of death nine times higher than other well-nourished children. Haryana is one of the worst-affected states when it comes to malnutrition. Sadly, the state administration refuses to acknowledge the situation. How has malnutrition affected Haryana? In early 2013, the results of a National Family Health Survey III conducted by HUNGAMA (an initiative of Naandi Foundation, Hyderabad) were placed before the Haryana Assembly. The revelations were alarming. The survey said that about 46 percent of the children in the state were suffering from stunted growth due to malnutrition. About 43 percent children in the state were considered underweight and about 19 percent suffered from a low weight in proportion to their height (wasting). This report was criticised and disputed by the state administration. In a more recent study by Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI), Chandigarh, it has come to light that the rates of malnutrition among children from the districts of Ambala, Karnal, Panchkula, and Yamuna Nagar are rather alarming. According to the study, in these districts about 37.4 percent children were underweight, while some 42.8 percent suffered from stunted growth due to malnutrition. Apart from this, about 17.5 percent children suffered from wasting. In the district of Karnal alone as many as 95 percent children were found anemic. In Haryana, over 53 percent of deaths among children under the age of five were attributed to malnutrition. Poverty and malnutrition Poverty is one of the major reasons for unavailability of nutritious food, leading to malnutrition. According to Planning Commission statistics, about 11.6 percent people in the state (28.83 lakh people) were living below the poverty line in 2011-12. Apart from this, lack of awareness about health and nutritious food is another major cause of malnutrition. In families where availability of healthy food is low, the male children are provided healthy food while the female children are deprived causing high incidences of female malnutrition in the state. What needs to be done? Acknowledgement of the current malnutrition situation is the first step to battling the concern. Poverty alleviation measures need to be put in place to help families gain the minimum requisite quantity of nutrients to keep them healthy. One important action that needs to be initiated by the state administration is the launch of targeted programmes in partnership with NGOs and other national and international agencies. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be tackled by making supplements available free of cost at regional healthcare centers and mobile healthcare units. Districts suffering from high rates of malnutrition need to be looked at closely and a targeted approach needs to be adopted to relieve them of the curse of malnutrition. Awareness drives and sensitisation programs also are a major help in combating the situation. Towards a Naya Haryana A Naya Haryana, a new state which shall bank on its prosperity and development for the well-being of its residents can only be built on the solid foundations of good health and adequate healthcare. For a state that dreams of claiming new frontiers in the fields of technology, infrastructure, and communication, malnutrition needs to be a thing of the past. The current challenge must be taken on with gusto and eradicated for the state to progress.malnutrition

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