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Government Sets Malnutrition Target 


The Union Minister for Women and Child Development informed the Rajya Sabha that the Central government intends to reduce stunting and undernutrition (underweight prevalence) among children under the age of six by 2% per year.


GS Paper 2: Social justice, Health

Mains Question

Even with a number of programmes in place to combat malnutrition, India faces a formidable challenge. Discuss (250 words)

National Family Health Survey (NFHS):

  • The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) is a large-scale, multi-round survey that is conducted in a representative sample of households across India.
  • In 1992-93, the first National Family Health Survey (NFHS-1) was conducted. The fifth round of the survey (NFHS-5) was conducted in 2019-21.
  • The NFHS’s main goal has been to provide reliable and comparable data on health, family welfare, and other emerging areas in India.
  • The International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai, served as the national nodal agency for all NFHS rounds.
  • Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is the nodal ministry.

NFHS-5 Key Findings –

  • The report contains detailed information on key population domains such as: o health and family welfare; fertility; family planning; infant and child mortality; maternal and child health; nutrition and anaemia; morbidity and healthcare; women’s empowerment, and so on.
  • Total Fertility Rates (TFR), or the average number of children per woman, fell from 2.2 to 2.0 at the national level between NFHS-4 and 5.
  • The country’s overall contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR) has risen significantly from 54% to 67%.
  • In India, institutional births have increased significantly from 79 percent to 89 percent.
  • According to the data, stunting has decreased from 38.4 percent to 35.5 percent, wasting has decreased from 21.0 percent to 19.3 percent, and underweight prevalence has decreased from 35.8 percent to 32.1 percent.
  • Stunting is defined as having a low height-for-age.
  • Wasting is defined as having a low weight-for-height ratio.
  • The proportion of women (15-49 years old) with BMIs below normal has decreased from 22.9 percent in NFHS-4 to 18.7 percent in NFHS-5.
  • Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat for adult men and women based on height and weight.

Other Vital Information

  • Union Minister Smriti Irani stated in the Rajya Sabha that the Central government aims to reduce stunting and undernutrition (underweight prevalence) among children under the age of six by 2% per year.
  • According to the Union Minister, the government aims to reduce: o low birth weight by 2% per year, and o anaemia among children aged six to 59 months, as well as women and adolescent girls (15 to 49 years) by 3% per year.
  • Anaemia is a medical condition in which the blood lacks sufficient healthy red blood cells.
  • The Union Minister also emphasised data in relation to NFHS-5 – Meghalaya has the highest proportion of stunted children (46.5%), followed by Bihar (42.9 percent ).
  • Maharashtra has the highest proportion of wasted children (weight for height), followed by Gujarat (25.1 percent ).
  • Jharkhand has the highest percentage of women (15–49 years old) with a BMI below normal (26 percent) (BMI).

December 2023