(Dr. Srinivasa K. Rao, Ph.D.)
To achieve the $5 Trillion economic goal, India needs a simple tool to reduce Malnutrition, the principal cause of disease burden!
MALNUTRITION IS STILL A MAJOR PROBLEM IN INDIA
The annual increase in chObesitysity in India between 2010–30 is projected to be “very high”, at 10·8%, according to the World Obesity Atlas 2022. The report notes that children living with Obesity are more likely to have poorer health in childhood, including hypertension and metabolic disorders. If we add the problem of Obesity to the undernourished children in India, a third of the children are not healthy, and they will not grow to be healthy adults!
Future Pillars of Country’s Economy — Today!
Malnutrition is a silent emergency and a leading cause of morbidity and mortality amongst children under 5 (U5C). There are intra and inter‑generational consequences of Malnutrition.
India has been trying to progress in reducing Malnutrition for the last seven decades. National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) have been conducted since 1992–93; the latest survey was conducted in 2019–21. As seen in the graph below, the progress has been less than one percent per year over the last 27 years since data have been available.
It’s applying to find that the reduction in Malnutrition is less than 1% per year over the last 30 years.
Health Progress in 26 years — 1990 -2016
Epidemiological transition across the states of India is shown above from 1990–2016. It reveals infectious, and related diseases decreased to cause less than half of the disease burden in some states 30 years ago and in others only in the past few years. All states need to achieve the same level of health as the four states ( Kerala, Tamilnadu, Punjab& Himachal Pradesh) rapidly to realize India’s goal of $5 trillion by 2025 and $7 Trillion by 2030. Malnutrition has been one of the main hurdles to being a healthier nation for India. To understand and find a solution, I have been knocking on all the doors for the past several years, from the New Delhi offices to the Anganwadis in rural & tribal areas in India. With this background, when Sri Narendra Modi, the then CM of Gujarat, asked me in our special meeting in 2010 at his residence in Gandhi Nagar, I mentioned, ‘Malnutrition is the main hurdle for India’s progress. Furthermore, I said the subject of Malnutrition is under several ministries and not getting the attention it needs. The discussion continued for 40 minutes. I am very happy to read in Indian news that the Modi government launched the National Nutrition Mission (NNM), also known as the Poshan Abhiyaan in 2017.
Child and Maternal Malnutrition
A significant consequence of malnutrtion is Vitamin A deficiency which causes blindness. During the Covid pandemic malnutrition has increased in children for several reasons including missing the mid day meal in schools for the poorer sections of the population.
Benefits of Health for a Nation
Productivity, infrastructure, social stability, education & skill development, manufacturing innovation and, entrepreneurship, and related areas need significant improvement to progress as a nation. However, the key factor for all those to attain is health. India loses up to 4% of its gross domestic product and 8% of its productivity due to child malnutrition, studies reveal. Financial loss due to Malnutrition in terms of rupees is Rs10.88 Laksh Crocres.
Research suggests that $1 (Rs 75.08) spent on nutritional interventions in India could generate $34.1 to $38.6 in public economic returns.
POSHAN 2.0 scheme is formulated by merging four existing schemes: The Anganwadi Services, POSHAN Abhiyaan, Scheme for Adolescent Girls, and National Creche Scheme. It has a budget outlay for the Union Budget 2021–22 is Rs 3,483,235.63 crore. The primary beneficiaries are children below five years, as well as pregnant and lactating women. It operates through a network of 1,012,374 Anganwadi Centres and is connected to 8.36 crore beneficiaries. Of the approximately Rs 4,300 crore released under POSHAN Abhiyaan from March 2018 to December 2019, only around 1,570 crores had been spent.
Therefore, India has to focus on proper implementation rather than more money to reduce Malnutrition to improve its health. The most crucial aspect of Malnutrition is its measurement and monitoring.
How is Indian Malnutrition Measured?
The worldwide accepted method is to measure the height and weight of an individual to determine the Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is calculated by dividing the weight in kilos by the square of height iObesitys. If the value is below 18.5 Kg/Meter Sq. is considered as malnourished.
Just as a thermometer can detect & monitor the body’s temperature, we propose a tool or meter that can detect and monitor growth in a few seconds — a Growth Meter is essential for every Anganwadi, school, clinic, Hospital, and physician. It is the first solution for reducing Malnutrition.
What is a Growth Meter?
It is a cloud-based child growth monitoring system. The data will be known to all concerned immediately, including parents. That means several mMalnutritionarents also can participate in reducing Malnutrition and Obesity.
Growth Meter accelerates reduction in Malnutrition and Obesity by providing reliable, dependable, round through the year measuring and monitoring of children and adults rural and urban — for the entire nation. The initial estimates show that by using a Growth Meter, the cost of measuring a child can be reduced to 10-20 times less.
Therefore Growth Meter becomes an indispensable tool, just like a thermometer, towards a healthier nation!
(Courtesy: media.com https://srao123-73302.medium.com/growth-meter-for-healthier-weltheir-india-5e63517c285a)