Citizen’s Perspective: How you can fight the epidemic of Malnutrition
By Smiley Gumber
With every 3 children in India is malnourished and is rapidly rising at an alarming rate. It is estimated that approximately 1.3 million children die every year in India due to the epidemic of malnutrition. India is seen to have the world’s highest rate of malnutrition. This situation is extremely shocking and disapproving because the effects of malnourishment are completely irreversible if they occur at very young age. It often results in permanent disabilities that render the children ill for the rest of their lives.
Malnutrition in India has become a silent bomb situation that haunts millions of children. To understand India’s malnutrition problem the following government initiatives are and can be placed to battle out malnutrition –
- Save the Children’s ‘PoshanVatika’- The initiative works on growing nutritious seasonal vegetables, with school teachers and Aanganwadi volunteers named ‘Sevikas’. These grown vegetables are served to children under the Mid-day Meal Scheme, making them tastier and richer in essential vitamins and minerals. Save the Children’s campaign has brought down high child death rates from malnutrition ‘Nutrition for Babies’ by providing resources to mothers, nurses, doctors, and families on nutrition awareness. This keep the community engaged, through involving the participation of school teachers along with Aanganwadi ‘Sevikas’ to manage these gardens.
- CRY (Child Right and You) – CRY, anNGO has taken numerous ways to prevent malnutrition by educating rural pregnant mothers right from giving them knowledge about pre- natal care; medical and health checkups; adequate food for the mother and child. Along with this they also layimportance to proper immunization procedure for the first two years of a child’s life with timely polio drops, to monitor development and a check to preventing malnourishment.
- “Aaharam”- A mission nutrition project was started by GlaxoSmithKline in the slums of Tamil Nadu; Chennai, naming Save the Children – Aaharam. This project focuses on raising awareness among mothers; families and communities to fight and remove malnutrition. This following project was carried out in a total of 20 notified slums of Chennai along with 15 naming villages in the Tiruvallur district. They carried out regular malnutrition screening of children (especially between ages 3-6) and Community Case Management of undernourished children. The families; mother were educated about nutrition education – with regard to Young Child Feeding Practices, which could affect the Improve community access to nutritious food through locally available food items
- WASH – (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene); A Stop Diarrhea Initiative, titled WASH is working to improvise WASH levels across slums in cities such as Delhi, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. This work is carried out through community toilet construction, promotion and building of toilets in homes and schools, so that these have a clean water access and have adequate washing facilities. The initiative is also attempting to terminate the problem of open defecation – one of major reason of diarrhea. They also taught the local school children to use hygiene kits containing following items (a jar, soap, soap case and a nail cutter).
- Civil society, the public sector and sponsorship through those who are willing donate via online platforms or through investors, corporates, and volunteers can run donation programs; stories which can move in and successfully help to end India’s hunger problem.
- Private sector players and philanthropies can work closely with the government by forging long-term partnerships to support technological innovations by working closely with the government systems to improve the quality of service delivery, investing in proper infrastructure.
- Private companies are getting increasingly engaged in interventions to treat malnutrition and can have varying impacts on its immediate causes. In some cases, there has been production of ready-to-use therapeutic food to treat children suffering from acute cases of malnutrition. Companies can also play a key role in ensuring the provision of high quality, effective and affordable products.
- In addition, there are companies which have massively invested in interventions to fight micronutrient deficiencies through food fortification and bio fortification programs. These interventions can be termed as “techno fixes” to the fight the complex challenge of malnutrition bringing proper integration of strategies to shape food systems which can deliver healthy and diversified diets.
Over to you
The many programs organized and executed by Save the Children to fight malnutrition entail high expenditure. The NGO invests on food rations rich in carbohydrates and protein that must be supplied to at-risk children. However, food rehabilitation also involves outreach to children and communities, and screening for malnutrition and anemia. These facilities and nutrition must be transported across India during times of calamity. Donate to charity so you can make a substantial difference to fight malnutrition. Such initiatives that respond to the immediate causes of malnutrition cannot be the only answer. As a consequence, strong efforts are needed not only to treat malnutrition, but also to prevent it, to guarantee universal access to diverse, affordable, nutritious food and ensuring auniversal right to food.
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