As many as 92% mothers either don’t know of the term ‘malnutrition’, or are unaware of the fact that poor nutrition causes more than 50% deaths of children below five years of age in the country.
Education of girls/ women so that they can make good health and nutrition choices for their families is key to tackling the problem of malnutrition in India, said experts at the country’s first-ever International Symposium on Access at Base of Pyramid on Tuesday.
In states such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the nutrition scenario is better because of higher literacy rate among women.
“Malnutrition makes people, especially women and children, susceptible to various diseases. India needs to improve the conditions in which the underprivileged are born, grow, live, work and age. Educating women is a tested solution,” said Sir Michael G Marmot, chair, European review on social determinants of health and health divide. “The country has the resources. All it requires is to organise the resources, political will and deal with corruption,” he added.
Experts feel that education will also help eradicate problems such as lack of awareness, gender bias and low access to government facilities in uplifting the living standard of people at the base of pyramid.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) data, 72% people, having an annual income of Rs 1.5lakh, fall under this category. The ministry of urban development, government of India’s projection for the Capital says by 2030, 50% of the city population will live in slums.
“By improving the living conditions, health inequities can be checked; slum upgradation in Ahmedabad is an example. Investment of $500 per household and community contribution of $50 per household reduced cases of water-borne diseases and malnutrition drastically,” said Dr CS Pandav, head, centre for community medicine, AIIMS.