Malnutrition: A Big Challenge

Millions of families face malnutrition issues as a big challenge in poor countries, several steps have been taken by the UN to reduce the death rate in poor countries owing to malnutrition and the problem exists with countries that don’t take it as a severe issue. It’s the condition when the body doesn’t get enough nutrients. The term malnutrition addresses 3 broad groups of conditions.

● Undernutrition includes wasting (low weight-for-height)
● Stunting (low height-for-age) underweight (low weight-for-age)
● Micronutrient (a lack of important vitamins and minerals)

It is very common for children under 5 years of age children to be affected by malnutrition. It causes different diseases such as Kwashiorkor and marasmus, these are protein deficiency diseases. Malnutrition has severely affected low and middle-income countries. Countries in South Africa recorded the highest mortality rate and severity in malnutrition under the age of 5 years old. Yemen is the country facing a food crisis, where 2 million children are severely malnourished and require treatment. Malnutrition is now becoming a global challenge. Countries and UNICEF are working together to overcome this issue.

India’s Holistic Approach: Poshan Abhiyan
India, especially wherein most of the states don’t have access to health-related services has shown the highest malnutrition cases in the past few years. As per the UNICEF report 2018, India has recorded the largest number of malnourished children in the world. It’s important for every country to elevate a good healthcare system and reduce all forms of malnutrition. India stands at the severe level in stunting and wasting although the rates of
malnutrition are falling, the numbers are still high. India has launched Poshan Abhiyan (National Nutrition Mission) in 2018, to improve the nutritional status of children, adolescent girls, pregnant women, and lactating mothers for reduction in stunting growth, low birth weight babies. And to give momentum to Poshan Abhiyan govt. decided to celebrate the month of September as “Rashtriya Poshan Maah”. During the month of September, different activities are conducted for nutrition awareness with the help of ASHA, ANM, Anganwaari workers, and Panchayat across the different districts of India. “Rashtriya Poshan Maah” was celebrated in September 2020 to address the problem of malnutrition in women and children. The government organized many competitions such as Quiz, meme contests and asked people
to share the best recipes having good nutrition value. The “poshan abhiyan” aims to reduce anemia among women and adolescent girls in the age group of 15–49 years and low weight birth.

SOCHAI: The social change-maker and innovator is a youth-led social enterprise; it works to improve the health nutrition and socio-economic status of women and children. They are working on an innovative idea to aware people through bracelets to improve nutrition awareness among lactating mothers. SOCHAI sells 2 bracelets- the nutrition bracelets and recycles bracelets. They generate more than 2, 00,000 lakh rupees for the sales of bracelets in a year and provide employment to women in workshops to create new bracelets. They also run different campaigns to aware people about proper nutrition diets.

Nutrition bracelet: It’s an educational tool to inform mothers about proper child feeding practices in the first two years of child life. This bracelet won the 3rd high-level meeting Asia Pacific innovation challenge in 2016. Each bracelet has five cylindrical beads marked with the numbers 0, 6, 9, 12, and 24, signifying months, and there are different color beads like white for milk, brown for carbohydrates, yellow for protein, green for vitamins, and blue represents a protein, vitamin, and fats.

Red cycle bracelet: It’s a colorful bracelet that helps in understanding the monthly menstruation cycle and creates awareness, acceptance, and confidence to manage menstrual health, hygiene and breaks the silence around menstrual.

Key points from UNICEF nutrition Report, 2020:
⮚ Significant barriers hold back millions of people from healthy diets and lives:
● Globally, 1 in 9 people is hungry or undernourished.
● 1 in 3 people is overweight or obese

⮚ Global and national patterns hide inequalities within countries and communities, with vulnerable groups being most affected.
● Underweight cases are 10 times higher in the poorest countries compared to the richest countries.
● Minimum diversity is sustainable lower for children in the poorest households, rural areas, or with a less-educated mother.

⮚ Most people cannot access or afford a healthy diet or quality nutrition care.
● UNICEF stated that Food and health systems need to transform: By addressing
the food system and making healthy, sustainable food the most affordable for
all and fully integrate nutrition in health systems and make nutrition care,
preventive and curative, universally available.

The growth rate is very low to achieve the global target by 2025, which was set by UNICEF. Not one country is on course to meet all ten of the 2025 global nutrition targets and only 8 out of 194 countries are on track to meet four targets. These numbers show that still there are many countries that are not taking malnutrition as a severe issue. In Asia, India has taken responsibility on its own to control the malnutrition issue. Instead of depending on
UNICEF assistance, there is time to take responsibility for our own countries. Countries like Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Syria are requiring UNICEF assistance, not the all.

Written by Connecting Dreams Foundation SVC member Rahul Baderia

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