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Focus: GS-II Social Justice

Why in news?

Increase in joblessness and poverty due to the pandemic will lead to a rise in hunger as well as malnutrition in the country, cautions UNICEF’s India Chief for Nutrition.

What has been the impact of COVID-19 on nutritional services?

  • During the lockdown, in terms of distribution of foods, there was quick adaptability and there was also door-to door delivery of take-home ration (PKGKAY Scheme of providing free food-grains and pulses), but at the same time there were people on the move who could not be reached.
  • Even though data is limited, it suggests the reach and coverage is still lagging behind.
  • We need the same essential services, but need to deliver them through new platforms such that they do not contribute to possible spread of COVID-19.

What are the challenges India is facing vis-a-vis nutrition?

  • According to a study of the more than 10 lakh under-5 deaths in India in 2017, almost 7 lakh deaths could be attributed to malnutrition.
  • So, on an average, every day almost 2000 children under five die with malnutrition as underlying cause.
  • Due to COVID-19 induced food security and malnutrition these figures will go up.

Nutritional Rehabilitation Centres (NRCs)

  • Under National Health Mission (NHM), over 1000 NRCs have been established all across the country to provide facility-based care for children with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) and medical complications.
    As per National Family Health Survey (NFHS 4, 2015-16), 7.5% of under five children are severely wasted and more than 35% of children are underweight.
  • Children with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) along with medical complications are referred from villages by frontline workers such ASHA and Anganwadi workers and admitted to NRCs as per the defined admission criteria.
  • In order to improve their health condition, medical and nutritional therapeutic care is provided during NRC stay.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024