Assam, Nagaland and Tripura have been found to comprise the highest number of children below five years dying due to malnutrition.
This was revealed in a research report 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’ that was published in Lancet Child & Adolescent Health and released recently.
The research was carried out by the India State Level Disease Burden Initiative, a joint initiative of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and National Institute of Nutrition (NIN).
The report states that the Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY) rate attributable to malnutrition in children varies seven between states and is highest in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Assam, followed by Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Nagaland and Tripura.
It also stated that malnutrition was the predominant risk factor for death in children younger than 5 years of age in every state of India in 2017, accounting for 68.2 per cent of the total under five deaths, and the leading risk factor for health loss for all ages.
Of the 1.04 million under 5-deaths in India in 2017, 706000 could be attributed to malnutrition, the report added.
The report mentions that the highest proportion of the malnutrition DALYs in children younger than 5 years in India in 2017 was from low birth weight and short gestation followed by child growth failure.
To address the problem of malnutrition, the report suggested that India should come up with an effective nutrition policy.
The report suggested some measures to address the malnutrition problem which includes providing clean drinking water, reducing rates of open defecation, improving women’s status, enhancing agricultural productivity and food security, promoting nutrition sensitive agriculture, coupled with harmonization of efforts across ministries and sectors, political will and good governance, and strategic investments in a multi-sectoral approach.