Skip to main content

Gates Foundation study: Child malnutrition reduction targets impossible to achieve

Modi receiving Gates Foundation award
By Rajiv Shah 
A Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded study has found that malnutrition remains the “predominant risk factor for death in children younger than 5 years of age”, accounting for 68.2% of the total under-5 deaths, and remains the “leading risk factor for health loss for all ages” despite the Government of India's huge budgetary funding to the tune of US$1.3 billion and the "hope" that the Swacch Bharat Mission would reduce malnutrition.
The study, which has also been supported by the Indian Council of Medical Research, states that the prevalence of low birthweight in India in 2017 was 21.4%, child stunting 39.3%, child wasting 15.7%, child underweight 32.7%, anaemia in children 59.7%, anaemia in women 15–49 years of age 54.4%, exclusive breastfeeding 53.3%, and child overweight 11.5% (8.5–14.9).
The study was released on September 18 by the e-journal "Lancet", days before the Gates Foundation awarded Prime Minister Narendra Modi the Global Goalkeeper for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in US amidst objections by prominent academics, including three Nobel laureates.
Based on these estimates, the study believes, it is safe to assume that the National Nutrition Mission (NNM) 2022 – a flagship programme of the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), Government of India, with goals to achieve improvement in nutritional status of Children from 0-6 years, adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers in a time bound manner – would not be achieved.
Thus, according to the study, the trend between 2010 and 2017 suggests in 2022 “there would be 8.9% excess prevalence for low birthweight, 9.6% for stunting, 4.8% for underweight, 11.7% for anaemia in children, and 13.8% for anaemia in women relative to the 2022 targets.”
It continues, “For the additional indicators in the WHO and UNICEF 2030 targets, the trends up to 2017 would lead to 10.4% excess prevalence for wasting, 14.5% excess prevalence for overweight, and 10.7% less exclusive breastfeeding in 2030.”
The study believes, “The trends up to 2017 indicate that substantially higher rates of improvement will be needed for all malnutrition indicators in most states to achieve the Indian 2022 and the global 2030 targets.”
Titled “The burden of child and maternal malnutrition and trends in its indicators in the states of India: the Global Burden of Disease Study 1990–2017”, the study states, “Within child growth failure, the highest contribution to disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) was from wasting, the prevalence of which declined only moderately in India during 2010–17.”
While agreeing that the prevalence of stunting and underweight has been decreasing, the study says, “However, the prevalence has remained very high in India at 39% and 33%, respectively, in 2017.” Similarly, “the prevalence of anaemia has been extremely high in India at 60% in children and 54% in women in 2017, with only moderate decline during 2010–17.”
At the same time, according to the study, “The prevalence of child overweight has increased considerably in India in the past decade, with a prevalence of 12% in 2017.”
The findings in the study indicate that, if the trends up to 2017 continue, “The NNM 2022 and the WHO and UNICEF 2030 targets will not be achieved in most states of India, except for low birthweight and stunting in a few states and exclusive breastfeeding in several.”
It adds, “Because low birthweight was the largest contributor to child malnutrition DALYs in India, its slow decline should be addressed as a priority. South Asia, with India as its largest component, is estimated to have the highest prevalence of low birthweight for any region in the world.”
At the same time, the study regrets, “A major issue with tracking low birthweight is the poor quality of birthweight data in many low-income and middle-income countries, including India.”
It says, “The higher proportion of underweight women in the reproductive age group in India compared with sub-Saharan Africa has been suggested to contribute to a higher prevalence of low birthweight in India, even though sub-Saharan Africa is poorer.”
The study believes, “The prevalence of stunting, an indicator of chronic undernutrition, caused by a variety of social, environmental, and economic risk factors, is unsurprisingly highest in the less developed states. However, the prevalence of wasting, indicative of acute undernutrition, is highest in some of the more developed states.”
Thus, the study finds that gap between projected child wasting percent prevalence and WHO- UNICEF 2030 target is 14.6% in Gujarat, one of the “richest” states. This is against the national average of 10.4%. In fact, the study finds that in no other state the wasting gap for achieving the target is so high as that of Gujarat.
The study finds that gap between projected child wasting percent prevalence and WHO- UNICEF 2030 target is 14.6% in Gujarat, the highest in India
Wasting, or low weight for height, is a strong predictor of mortality among children under five. It is usually the result of acute significant food shortage and/or disease.
Referring to the Government of India’s revamped NNM with a budget of US$1.3 billion to “comprehensively address the challenge of persistent undernutrition” by systematically synergising a variety of nutrition-related activities of various government ministries and stakeholders in order to strengthen many maternal and child health initiatives, the study calls “the malnutrition indicator targets set by NNM for 2022 “aspirational”.
It says, while the ongoing sanitation improvement drive in India under the Swachh Bharat Mission is may contribute to the reduction in malnutrition, “The rate of improvement needed to achieve the targets is much higher than the rate observed.”

Comments

TRENDING

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

A new fad in India, coding-for-toddlers culture needs to be 'nipped' in the bud

By Aditya Pandey* We are all aware of the dire consequences of subjecting young kids to intense academic pressure from an early age. In India, we have coaching institutes like FIITJEE and Resonance offering programmes for 6th standard kids to prepare them for “NTSE, IJSO, PRMO and other Olympiads”. The duration of these programmes is around 175 hours – hours that could've been spent playing games and making friends instead.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).