New Delhi: Terming malnutrition as a major threat to social and economic development, the Economic Survey on Thursday stressed the need to modify the existing policies and programmes to tackle the problem.
“It is evident that existing policies and programmes are not making a significant dent on malnutrition and need to be modified,” the survey tabled in the Parliament said.
The report noted that malnutrition is a major threat to social and economic development as it is the most serious obstacle in maintaining children’s health.
“While poverty rates have declined significantly, malnutrition has remained stubbornly high,” it said.
The National Family Health Survey (2005-06) indicated that underweight children constitute 45.9% of those below the age of three years.
Apart from poverty, poor feeding practices in infancy and early childhood, are among the main reasons for high rates of malnutrition. “It may be observed that malnutrition cannot entirely be explained by poverty though it is an important determinant.
“Even Punjab with a poverty ratio of only 8.4% has 27% children below three years as underweight,” the report said.
According to the survey, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat and Haryana are among other states having high malnutrition among children with lower levels of poverty.
Emphasising the need for improved public health education, the survey said the government must ensure “that every citizen has access to education.” It should also make education “more relevant by providing information on matters that will improve their lives (health, hygiene, nutrition)”.