The rate of child wasting in India increased by 4.3 per cent, placing the country at the top spot among all the countries of the world, according to the Global Hunger Index (GHI) released on October 15, 2019. The index has stated that around 90 per cent of children aged between 6 and 23 months in the country don’t even get the minimum required food.
According to UNICEF, wasting is a strong predictor of mortality among children under five and is usually the result of acute significant food shortage and/or disease. This points at a serious food crisis in the country.
The index has revealed that wasting among children under five has risen up to 20.8 per cent in 2019 from 16.5 per cent in 2010. The calculation of the hunger level and undernutrition worldwide was done by considering four indicators — undernourishment, child wasting, child mortality and child stunting.
India ranked 102 on the index among 117 qualifying countries with a score of 30.3. Even North Korea, Niger, Cameroon fared better than India. Neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka (66), Nepal (73), Pakistan (94) and Bangladesh (88) also secured better rank than India.
Considering the fact that India is the second-most populous country in the world, its hunger indicators have a huge impact on the total indicators of the region owing to its large population, according to the index.
When it comes to stunting in children under five, the country saw a dip, but it’s still high — 37.9 per cent in 2019 from 42 per cent in 2010. The current rate is very high in terms of public health significance, added the GHI.
The index also commented on the state of open defecation in the country. Despite the Swachh Bharat campaign, open defecation is still practised in India, found the index. It jeopardizes the population’s health and severely impacts children’s growth and their ability to absorb nutrients, it added.