Malnutrition is rampant in every nook and corner in India. The 2018 Global Hunger Index ranks India 103rd of 119 countries. India is home to 46.6 million stunted and 25.5 million wasted Under-5 children. Malnutrition is rampant in every nook and corner.
Governments worldwide have been trying to address health and nutrition challenges for quite a few decades but have been failing miserably. It is no longer in the hands of governments alone to take this challenge but civil society organisations have an equal and important role to play.
Smile Foundation’s campaign, ‘Plate Half Full’ is an initiative to enhance education with adequate nutrition. While it is necessary to have underprivileged children attend school, it is also just as important to have them eat regular meals- complete with right nutrition- in a day.
The Smile Team also aims at sensitizing the teachers and the family members of such children on the need of proper nutrition. “Smile Foundation’s campaign Plate Half Full is a programme designed to address the challenge of nutrition and education in young children. It comes with a promise of nutritious food along with regular school education, encouraging more kids to attend school in the lure of wholesome meals,” said Mr Santanu Mishra, co-founder and trustee, Smile Foundation.
Initiatives like Cook for Smile (CFS) have been put forth by Smile Foundation which brings forward the top industry leaders from the country to cook, contest and raise support for the underprivileged suffering from malnutrition or inadequate nutritional resources.
According to the Global Nutrition Report (2018), malnutrition is responsible for ill health more than any other cause. Children under five years of age face multiple issues globally. The statistics show that 150.8 million children are stunted (reduced growth rate), 50.5 million are wasted (rapid loss of body weight) and 38.3 million are overweight. The effects of ill nutrition extend to the women as well as the report says that one third of all the women of reproductive age have anemia (deficiency of iron in blood).
India is reportedly the home to the largest number of malnourished children in the world. Three out of 10 stunted children in the world are from India. More than 20% of children under the age of five suffer from wasting due to under nutrition, 43% are underweight and 48% are stunted due to chronic under nutrition (UNICEF). The highest number of low birth weight babies per year is from India amounting to 7.4 million.
The children most affected by malnutrition are the ones whose mothers are too a victim of ill health.
Despite a fast growing economy and the largest anti-malnutrition program in the world, India lags far behind in the battle against malnutrition. Area of public health and nutrition (PHN), in India needs urgent attention and timely action before we lose more young lives to it. It’s about time that we take step towards eliminating this threat and bringing the happiness and health that these innocent souls deserve.