The umbrage of being worse than sub-Saharan African children in nutrition is finally over for Indian kids below three years of age.
Evaluation of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-3 data, based on new WHO standards for child growth, says that only 40.4 per cent of the Indian children are malnourished.
The same survey evaluating children health on basis of American standards had shown that 46 per cent per cent of Indian kids were malnourished, two per cent higher than sub-Saharan African children, thereby inviting international ridicule.
But, the government was quick to debunk the American standard once the WHO introduced its standards in 2006 based on surveys on child health in Europe, Africa, India and China. “The WHO standards truly reflect the child health standards on the global level unlike the earlier norm which was based on a survey on a few American children,” said Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairperson, Planning Commission.
It was in 2007 that the government asked the health ministry to re-evaluate the 2005-06 NFHS as per the WHO standards.
“The new standards clearly show that the government was able to bring about two point percentage improvement in nutrition levels showing that government policies had some positive impact on poor. But, this does not mean that we have done satisfactory work. We need to do better,” Ahluwalia said.