A UNICEF report released on Wednesday reported that India witnessed the highest number of deaths of children aged below five years in the year 2018. The report titled “The State of the World’s Children (SOWC)” also states that around 38 percent of Indian children under the age of five are stunted. The report is yet another indication of India’s pitiful situation with respect to its children after the Global Hunger Index 2019ranked India at a low 102 rank as the country suffers from a level of hunger that is serious.

India tops the list of Under-5 child mortality in 2018, where over 8.8 lakh children below the age of five years died. The median Under-5 mortality rate per 1,000 live births in India is 37

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Key Takeaways;

  • The report titled “The State of the World’s Children (SOWC)” was released by UNICEF this Wednesday. The report analyses the global state of children’s health vis-a-vis malnutrition, obesity, anemia, and other health issues.
  • According to the report, globally, at least one in three children under five is not growing well due to malnutrition in its more visible forms: stunting, wasting and overweight.
  • Further, globally, at least one in two children under five suffers from hidden hunger due to deficiencies in vitamins and other essential nutrients.
  • Adolescents said they faced significant barriers to healthy eating. Cost and taste were top of the list.
  • Triple burden of malnutrition, which is evident in countries, communities and even individual families, may be the case in five percent of rural and eight percent of urban households of India

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Impact Of GenderIn Every Facet Of Malnutrition

According to the report, “As primary caregivers, women play a pivotal – if not the most crucial – role in whether children are eating well, yet far too many women are excluded from decision-making.” Malnourished women aren’t just unhealthy in themselves but the children of malnourished women are more likely to suffer from stunting than the children of healthy mothers. Women’s empowerment, hence, is very strongly linked with the health and development of a family as a whole.

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If women are empowered and are given the freedom to make decisions and can support their family economically, a cycle of well being is set into motion, where everyone in the family is benefitted.

Women’s Economic Empowerment is pivotal in facilitating factors that prove to be supportive of the well being of a family. However, when girls and women are denied the right to food, nutrition, and health, children, households, communities, and economies suffer. Conversely, if they’re empowered and are given the freedom to make decisions and can support their family economically, a cycle of well being is set into motion, where everyone in the family is benefitted.

Health And Educational Policies Can Impact Children’s Health Too

The report lauded India’s effortstowards strengthening its health infrastructure through health programmes. Earlier, the health ministry released a report showing that 35 percent of under five children are stunted, 17 percent are wasted and 33 percent underweight. These findings can become a basis for India “scaling up dietary diversification and food fortification to address vitamin A deficiency”, according to the UNICEF report.

Picture Credit: The Hindu

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