New Delhi: Lagging behind Pakistan and Bangladesh, India has ranked 94 among 107 nations in this year’s Global Hunger Index as experts have blamed the country’s poor implementation processes, lack of effective monitoring, siloed approach in tackling malnutrition and poor performance by large states for securing the low rank.
With this, India has slipped into what GHI terms as “serious hunger category”. Despite being in the serious category, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan have ranked higher than India.
Bangladesh secure 75th rank, Myanmar and Pakistan are in the 78th and 88th position. Nepal 73rd and Sri Lanka 64th are in “moderate” hunger category. The report also mentioned that 14% of India’s population is undernourished.
It also stated that India recorded a 37.4 per cent stunting rate among children under five and a wasting rate of 17.3 per cent. The under-five mortality rate stood at 3.7 per cent.
“The performance of large states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh need to be improved to see an overall change of India’s ranking,” a report by news agency PTI quoted Purnima Menon, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, as having said.
“Every fifth child born in India is in Uttar Pradesh. So if you have a high level of malnutrition in a state that has a high population, it contributes a lot to India’s average. Obviously, then, India’s average will be slow to move,” she told the news agency.
Menon added that big states with a large population and a high burden of malnutrition are those which are actually affecting India’s average.
“So, if we want a change in India then we would also need a change in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar,” she was quoted saying.
“However, the ground realities are quite dismal,” Shweta Khandelwal, the head of Nutrition Research and Additional Professor at Public Health Foundation of India, told PTI.
“Research shows that our top-down approach, poor implementation processes, lack of effective monitoring and siloed approaches in tackling malnutrition (missing convergence) often result in poor nutrition indices. We must integrate actions to make public health and nutrition a priority across each sector,” the news agency quoted Khandelwal as having said.
Suggesting five measures to prevent “exacerbation of hunger because of the pandemic”, Khandelwal said: “Safeguard and promote access to nutritious, safe and affordable diets; invest in improving maternal and child nutrition through pregnancy, infancy, and early childhood; re-activate and scale-up services for the early detection and treatment of child wasting; maintain the provision of nutritious and safe school meals for vulnerable children and expand social protection to safeguard access to nutritious diets and essential service.”
Stating that it is important to aim at curbing multiple forms of malnutrition holistically in a concerted manner rather than single short-sighted fixes, Khandelwal said: “Hunger and undernutrition cannot and should not be fixed by mere calorie provision. All stakeholders steered by robust leadership must pay attention to making balanced healthy diets which are climate-friendly, affordable and accessible to all.”
GHI (Global Hunger Index) score is calculated on four indicators – undernourishment; child wasting, the share of children under the age of five who are wasted– who have low weight for their height reflecting acute undernutrition); child stunting, children under the age of five who have low height for their age reflecting chronic undernutrition; and child mortality – the mortality rate of children under the age of five.