India's hunger ranking affected by wasting among children, depicts new report

India's hunger ranking affected by wasting among children, depicts new report


Confirming the rising trend of prevalence of wasting (i.e. too thin for height) among children below 5 years of age, a new report on the state of global hunger shows that during 2017 India ranks 100th among 119 countries in terms of Global Hunger Index (GHI).

Entitled 2017 Global Hunger Index: The Inequalities of Hunger, the report indicates that the neighbouring countries such as China (GHI score: 7.5; GHI rank: 29), Nepal (GHI score: 22.0; GHI rank: 72), Myanmar (GHI score: 22.6; GHI rank: 77), Sri Lanka (GHI score: 25.5; GHI rank: 84) and Bangladesh (GHI score: 26.5; GHI rank: 88) have outperformed the country (GHI score: 31.4; GHI rank: 100). However, Pakistan (GHI score: 32.6; GHI rank: 106) and Afghanistan (GHI score: 33.3; GHI rank: 107) have performed worse than India.

It has been stated in the new global hunger report that if one wants to track the progress of a nation or region over time, the 1992, 2000, 2008, and 2017 scores within the present report can be compared. Hence, it would not be prudent if one compares the GHI score or associated rank for a country as provided in the present report against the GHI score/ rank given by previous reports (that got published in the past).  

The latest report on global hunger, which has been published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe shows that the GHI score for the country was 46.2 in 1992, 38.2 in 2000, 35.6 in 2008 and 31.4 in 2017.

At 31.4, the country's 2017 GHI score is at the high end of the serious category, says the report.

Table 1: Trends in undernourishment, wasting, stunting and under-five mortality in India (in %)
 
Table 1 Trends in undernourishment wasting stunting and under five mortality in India
 
Source: 2017 Global Hunger Index: The Inequalities of Hunger

The table-1 shows that although all the three indicators i.e. proportion of undernourished in the population, prevalence of wasting in children under five years and under-five mortality rate have exhibited declining trends over time, in case of the indicator -- prevalence of wasting in children under five years, there has been a rising trend since the period 2006-2010.

As per the fourth round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), more than a fifth (21.0 percent) of children below 5 years of age in the country suffer from wasting. The report says that only three other countries in 2017's GHI - Djibouti, Sri Lanka, and South Sudan - have data or estimates displaying child wasting above 20 percent in the period 2012–2016. On top of that, there has been no significant decline in the prevalence of wasting among children below 5 years of age over the past 25 years. The proportion of children who suffer from wasting during 2012-2016 is higher than that in 1990-1994. Please check table-1.

The country has, however, made progress in reducing the prevalence of child stunting (i.e. too short for age), from 61.9 percent during the period 1990-1994 to 38.4 percent during the period 2012-2016. Although the country has scaled up two national programmes that address the issue of nutrition i.e. the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme and the National Health Mission (NHM), adequate coverage under these schemes/ programmes is yet to be achieved.

According to the 2017 Global Hunger Index report, the areas of concern include (1) the timely introduction of complementary foods for young children; (2) an adequate diet to children between 6 and 23 months old; and (3) household access to improved sanitation facilities.    

Although the 2013 National Food Security Act (NFSA) created legal entitlements to existing governmental food and nutrition security programmes, dalits (Scheduled Castes) and adivasis (Scheduled Tribes) are still left behind in getting the full benefits of such publicly funded schemes/ programmes. According to the report, it is difficult to monitor the implementation of NFSA in remote tribal hamlets.

The dalits in India face endemic discrimination and social ostracism. The tribals face forced eviction and displacement from their natural habitats, according to the global hunger report.

It needs to be mentioned here that the GHI scores are based on four indicators i.e.

* Undernourishment: the share of the population that is undernourished (that is, whose caloric intake is insufficient);

* Child Wasting: the share of children under the age of five who are wasted (that is, who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition);

* Child Stunting: the share of children under the age of five who are stunted (that is, who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition); and

* Child Mortality: the mortality rate of children under the age of five (in part, a reflection of the fatal mix of inadequate nutrition and unhealthy environments).
 
References:

2017 Global Hunger Index: The Inequalities of Hunger, published by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Concern Worldwide & Welthungerhilfe, released in October 2017, please click here to access

About the Global Hunger Index, http://www.globalhungerindex.org/about/

Country case study: India, http://www.globalhungerindex.org/case-studies/2016-india.html

2016 Global Hunger Index: Getting to Zero Hunger (released in October 2016), published by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Concern Worldwide, and Welthungerhilfe (WHH), please click here to access 

Prevalence of wasting among children is rising, shows NFHS-4 data, News alert from Inclusive Media for Change dated 17 May, 2017, please click here to access 

Global Hunger Index: More & more Indian children weigh too little for their height -Shalini Nair, The Indian Express, 13 October, 2017, please click here to access 

India ranked 100th among 119 as hunger gets worse, The Times of India, 13 October, 2017, please click here to access 

India's hunger problem is worse than North Korea's: global hunger index report -Sayantan Bera, Livemint.com, 12 October, 2017, please click here to access
 
 
Image Courtesy: Inclusive Media for Change/ Shambhu Ghatak



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