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Over 3.3 million malnourished children In India, admits government

Over 3.3 lakh children in India are malnourished and more than half of them fall in the severely malnourished category with Maharashtra, Bihar and Gujarat topping the list, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has said in response to an RTI (Right to Information) query

Nov 08, 2021
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Over 3.3 million malnourished children In India

Over 3.3 lakh children in India are malnourished and more than half of them fall in the severely malnourished category with Maharashtra, Bihar and Gujarat topping the list, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has said in response to an RTI (Right to Information) query. Prompting concern that the Covid pandemic could exacerbate the health and nutrition crisis among the poorest of the poor, the Women and Child Development ministry estimates that there are 17,76,902 (17.76 lakh/1.7 million) severely acute malnourished children and 15,46,420 (15.46 lakh/1.5 million) moderately acute malnourished children as of October 14, 2021.

The total 33,23,322 (33.23 lakh/3.3 million) is a compilation of data from 34 states and union territories, the ministry said in response to an RTI query by PTI. The numbers were registered on the Poshan tracker app developed last year as a governance tool for real-time monitoring of nutritional outcomes.

While the numbers are alarming in themselves, a comparison with figures from last November make them even more so. A 91 per cent rise in the number of SAM children has been seen between November 2020 and October 14, 2021 -- up from 9,27,606 (9.27 lakh) to 17.76 lakh now.

Responding to the numbers, NGO Child Rights and You (CRY) CEO Puja Marwaha said the Covid pandemic has impacted nearly all socio-economic indicators negatively and threatens to undo much of the progress made over the past decade.

"Services like ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) and midday meals in schools have become irregular during the prolonged closure of schools. These have severely affected children living in multi-dimensional poverty disproportionately, since they have been largely dependent on these services to fulfil their rights and entitlements," Marwaha told PTI.

Unless challenges related to adequacy in budgetary allocations to secure nutrition security of children and bottlenecks in utilisation are addressed, India will be unable to mitigate the loss caused due to the pandemic, she added.

Also, India has slipped to 101st position in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 of 116 countries, from its 2020 position of 94th and is behind its neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. According to Census 2011, there are over 460 million children in the country.

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