Raising fears that the Covid pandemic will exacerbate the health and nutritional crisis among the poorest of the poor, the Ministry of Women’s and Children’s Development estimates that there are 17,76,902 (17.76 lakh / 1.7 million) children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM).
More than 33 lakh children in India suffer from malnutrition and more than half of them fall under the severe malnutrition category with Maharashtra, Bihar and Gujarat at the top of the list, the WCD ministry said in response to an RTI survey.
Raising fears that the Covid pandemic will exacerbate the health and nutritional crisis among the poorest of the poor, the Ministry of Women’s and Children’s Development estimates that there are 17,76,902 (17,76 lakh / 1.7 million) children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and 15,46,420 (15.46 lakh / 1.5 million) children with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) as of October 14, 2021.
The total of 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. The numbers were recorded in the Poshan tracking app developed last year as a governance tool for real-time monitoring of nutritional outcomes.
While the numbers are alarming in themselves, a comparison to last November’s numbers makes them even more so. A 91% increase in the number of SAM children was observed between November 2020 and October 14, 2021, from 9,27,606 (9.27 lakh) to 17.76 lakh now.
However, the two sets of figures are based on different data collection methods. The number of SAM children (aged six months to six years) identified last year has been counted by 36 states and Union territories and relayed to the Center. The latest figures come from the Poshan tracker, where the figures were directly entered by the anganwadis and viewed by the Center, and the age group of the children was not specified.
The World Health Organization defines SAM as very low weight-for-height or greater than mid-arm circumference less than 115 mm, or the presence of nutritional edema. MAM is defined as moderate wasting and / or MUAC greater than or equal to 115 mm and less than 125 mm.
Both MAM and SAM have serious repercussions on a child’s health. Children with SAM are very low weight for height and nine times more likely to die from illness due to their weakened immune systems. People with MAM are also at increased risk of childhood morbidity and mortality.
According to RTI’s response citing Poshan, Maharashtra recorded the highest number of malnourished children with 6 16,772 (6.16 lakh) with 1,57,984 (1.57 lakh) MAM children and 4,58,788 (4.58 lakh) SAM children. Number two on the list is Bihar with 4.75,824 (4.75 lakh) malnourished children (3.23,741 MAM children and 1.52,083 SAM children). Gujarat recorded the third highest number of children with 3.20,465 (3.20 lakh) with 1,55,101 (1.55 lakh) MAM children and 1,65,364 (1.65 lakh) SAM children.
Among the other states, Andhra Pradesh registered 2,67,228 (2.76 lakh) of malnourished children (69,274 MAM children and 1,97,954 SAM children) and Karnataka registered 2,49,463 (2, 49 lakh) of these cases (1.82 178 MAM children and 67,285 SAM children).
Uttar Pradesh has 1,86,640 (1.86 lakh) of malnourished children (1,14,094 MAM children and 72,546 SAM children) while Tamil Nadu has 1,78,060 (1.78 lakh children ( 1,20,076 MAM children and 57,984 SAM children) Next closely, Assam has 1,76,462 (1.76 lakh) cases of malnutrition (1,17,016 MAM children and 59,446 SAM children) and Telangana 1,52,524 (1.52 lakh, 95,033 MAM and 57,491 SAM children).
New Delhi is not far behind. The combined number of SAM and MAM children in the national capital is 1,17,345 (1.17 lakh) with 20,122 MAM children and 97,223 SAM children.
The latest figure available on malnourished children comes from the NFHS-4 (National Family Health Survey) in 2015-16, which found 38.4% of children under five are short for their age and 21% are losing weight or are underweight for age. height in India.
The NFHS-5, released in December last year, which provided figures for 22 states and UT, also presented a grim picture and showed that malnutrition had increased among children in 2019-2020 compared to 2015-16 in 22 states and UT. In addition, India has fallen to position 101 in the 2021 Global Hunger Index (GHI) out of 116 countries, from its position 94 in 2020 and is behind its neighbors Pakistan, Bangladesh and the United States, Nepal.
To combat the high persistence of malnutrition in the country, the Center launched the Poshan Abhiyan program in 2018 to reduce low birth weight, stunting, malnutrition and anemia in children, adolescents and women. According to the 2011 census, there are more than 46 million children in the country.