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- Gujarati Children Becoming More Malnourished Than Bihar, NFHS 5 Report Exposed Rich States
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14 minutes agoAuthor: Aditya Dwivedi
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In 2012, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the problem of malnutrition is national shame. With so many malnourished children, we cannot expect a healthy future. Eight years have passed since his statement. The government in the country changed but the ‘national shame’ did not change.
Instead of improving the situation of malnutrition between 2015 and 2019, many states have worsened or are improving at a very slow pace. Goa, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra and Telangana are also among the rich states in the opposite direction. This trend has been revealed by analyzing the data of the National Family Health Survey i.e. NFHS-5.
Gujarat vs Bihar: Different on the economic front, with malnutrition
Comparing Gujarat and Bihar may seem a bit strange, but it is necessary to understand the trend. The per capita income of Bihar in 2019 was Rs 40,982. 1,95,845 rupees more than five times that of Gujarat.
On the economic front, the two states are at opposite ends of each other, but in terms of child malnutrition and the status of women, Gujarat also stands alongside Bihar. In many aspects it is worse than that. Statistics on 131 parameters have been released in NFHS-5. Out of this, Gujarat has outperformed Bihar on more than 81 parameters. Such as health services and infant mortality.
There are many issues where Gujarat and Bihar are similar. Such as malnourished children, children with anemia and 100% vaccination rate. Bihar is in a better position than Gujarat on many parameters of women’s condition. Such as women’s property, mobile and bank accounts.
Wealthy states like Gujarat are also moving in the opposite direction.
Researcher Purnima Menon at the International Food Policy Research Institute believes that increasing malnutrition among children in India is a matter of concern. According to Purnima, children’s nutrition stands on three legs – cleanliness, government help and family income. If one of these legs becomes small or weak, then the figures of malnutrition start deteriorating. If democracy is stable and economy is also on the right path, then malnutrition is not encouraged.
Economist Reetika Kheda believes that only 0.1% of GDP is spent on children’s schemes like Anganwadi and PM Matru Vandana. Corporate participation in this field is there, but it is not known where to spend the money. For example, 70% of the government’s nutrition campaign was spent on software and smartphones made by BMGF. It was to be spent on Anganwadi workers and food.
Governments formulate policies based on National Family Health Survey
The National Family Health Survey i.e. NFHS was started in 1992. This is a survey of families in the country, in which data related to health, nutrition and social status are released. The data of NFHS is not only important for research, but the central and state governments also formulate policies on this basis.
Figures for the fifth edition of the NFHS have been released in 2020. Earlier, these surveys have been conducted in 1992, 1998, 2005 and 2015. This is the first installment of NFHS-5 released in December 2020. It has released data for 17 states and 5 union territories. The survey of big states like UP, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh has not been completed due to corona and lockdown. Hence the second installment is expected to come by May 2021.
Some other important statistics of National Family Health Survey-5
Eminent economist and social activist Jean Dreze said in a conversation with BBC that this government’s understanding of development is inverted. Growth does not just mean that GDP is increasing or people’s income is increasing. Development also means that not only the per capita income increases, but also the condition of health, education, democracy, social security should be improved.
Ritika Kheda believes that we need a model where children are given priority, not just GDP. How many children are asked in the country, it is clear that after the lockdown, malls and cinema opened, but there is no talk about opening anganwadis.