Brief update on hunger, malnourishment and maternal mortality in India
A recent report in Time highlighted the abysmal performance of India in prevention of maternity related deaths.
According to statistics released by the UN, in 2010, over 56000 Indian women died while giving birth which is the highest number on planet earth. India’s closest neighbors, Pakistan and Bangladesh, have been more successful than India in reducing maternal mortality despite being less economically than India in terms of GDP.

A report by Save The Children ranked India as the fourth worst country to give birth in, amongst 80 developing countries. It pointed out chronic issues such as female illiteracy, lack of contraceptive choices and lack of access to adequate healthcare facilities as being the principles reasons of both maternal as well poor neonatal nutrition. The report highlighted that India at 43% has the highest percentage of stunted children in the world.

The report lists out six solutions for combating infant malnutrition, at a very nominal cost, a) Iron and folate supplements during pregnancy b) exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months after delivery c) complementary feeding after six months upto 23 months d) Vitamin A supplements such as two vitamin A doses/year e) Zinc for diarrhea e) Water, sanitation and hygiene.

An earlier report published in 2009 by the IFPRI, which compared the hunger statistics across Indian states, ranked india at 66 out of 88 states in terms of food security for its citizens. No Indian state had an ISHI of less than 10, and Madhya Pradesh had an ISHI score of 30 or more (alarming). The report concluded that :
“” Inclusive economic growth and targeted strategies to ensure food sufficiency, reduce child mortality, and improve child nutrition are urgent priorities for all states in India. “”

The CLRA taking note of these findings even published a document for parliamentarians for any legislation if necessary, but as pointed by national coordinator of the White Ribbon alliance for safe motherhood, Aparajita Gogoi,
“India has wonderful policies on paper. We have the money too,” Gogoi says. “What we need to do is to turn these policies into action on the ground.”
Thanks for the detailed info and the useful links. It's taken so long to bring down child mortality rate. I guess malnourishment and maternal health is an equally uphill task.

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