Undernourishment, Starvation, and Child death are an endless loop of malnutrition. Globally, 1 in 9 individuals in the world today i.e. (795 million) is undernourished. Over 66 million primary school going children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone. Poor nutrition causes nearly half (nearly 45 percent) of deaths in children under five i.e.3.1 million children each year. The objective of Malnutrition Awareness week is to raise awareness of malnutrition and its adverse impact on individuals including the health care costs.
Spreading Awareness on negative impacts of Malnutrition
Poverty is a major cause of malnutrition, but inappropriate food choices and various mental and physical conditions as well can lead to delayed growth, low weight, or wasting. People who are malnourished have deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, especially iron, zinc, vitamin A and iodine. The long-term consequences of malnutrition can be chronic giving rise to Stunted growth, Eye problems, Diabetes, Heart disease, Stroke, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Coronary Heart Failure, Breast Cancer, Dementia, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Depression, and Colorectal Cancer, etc.
Spreading Awareness on Health care costs of Malnutrition – Almost 5 years from today, India was incurring an economic cost of micronutrient malnutrition between 0.8 percent and 2.5 percent of its GDP, which was equivalent to $15–46 billion. A fast-paced country like China also incurred an economic cost between 0.2 and 0.4 percent of GDP, equivalent to $15– 29 billion because of malnutrition. Even today, malnutrition costs India at least $10 billion yearly in terms of lost productivity, illness, and death and is seriously hindering improvements in human development and further reduction of childhood mortality.Hence Malnutrition Awareness Week aims to implement strategies for addressing and executing programs and resources to fight malnutrition within hospitals and communities.
Implementation of Strategies to tackle Malnutrition under healthcare
A review found that malnutrition is extremely widespread across different hospital patient groups in 11 countries in Asia. More than 60 % of the studies found that at least 40 % of the patients were malnourished. A report published in 2013 studying “Prevalence of malnutrition in a tertiary care hospital in India” found out that a total of 86% of all cancer patients admitted were malnourished against only 12% of trauma patients and the three most encountered co-morbidities among the malnourished were hypertension, diabetes, and cancer. [source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24082614/ ]
NRC (The Nutrition Rehabilitation Centers) is a Blessing To Eradicate Malnutrition, a bunch of healthcare units spread across various locations in India where individuals with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) are admitted and operated on. The NRC delivers nutrition and health by treating the patients with required supplements and taking administrative care along with nutritional counseling and maintaining the physical, mental & social development of the children with SAM. India has a total of 1151 NRC’s and it was found according to reports received from various states and union territories that 1.86 lakh children under five years of age were admitted to the NRCs in the year 2017-18, of which 1.17 lakh children were discharged with target weight gain, so there is hope for success, along with scope for improvement.
Implementation of Strategies to tackle Malnutrition on a Community level
Right from making changes in constitutional & legislative policies & programs, the Indian Government has taken several initiatives to tackle malnutrition by committing itself to End Hunger (Goal 2) by 2030, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It has established Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), and the nationwide execution of the mid-day meal scheme and the National Food Security Act (2013), India has aimed at improving the country’s nutritional situation over the last 4 decades. Further to nurture the children and women of India, GOI has launched schemes like the POSHAN Abhiyaan, Anganwadi Service Scheme, and the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) under the ICDS
Educating healthcare professionals about early detection and treatment of malnutrition.
Mounting evidence implies that malnutrition occurs very early in life and disproportionally affects children under 2 years of age. Many instances like maternal malnutrition, low birth weight, poor feeding and care practices, and infection intensified by food insecurity, limited access to safe drinking water, and poverty are signs of early malnutrition which a healthcare worker can detect well in advance. To begin with, such health care professionals can advise on giving ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) managed by the GOI.
The healthcare workers are made aware of the Growth Monitoring Charts that help in recording and comparing the growth in weights, whether it’s negative or positive and what are the challenges in fighting the same. Early Screening of Acute Malnutrition involves interpreting the Mid-Upper Arm Circumference MUAC indicators, detecting any Clinical signs of Iron Deficiency Anemia, Vitamin A Deficiency, and Iodine Deficiency Disorders, and setting up resources for treating Acute Malnutrition. Additionally, they can also advise and implement dietary recommendations including training, modeling, organizing & investigating patient’s health from time to time.
Educating Customers & Patients to be aware of their Nutritional Status.
Right from checking out the F+ Logo on fortified foods, consumers are becoming alert of what they are consuming in many ways in their daily lives. Being aware of what they are buying and reading the label carefully to learn about every single ingredient used is one such way to engage in safe consumption. The current Covid-19 pandemic has featured an unparalleled challenge to the public health infrastructure, food systems, and work-life balance. Right from increasing the intakes of protein to focus on their muscle strength to taking boosters to fight viruses, customers are becoming very cautious.
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs [https://consumeraffairs.nic.in/] has been conducting country-wide multimedia awareness campaigns titled “Jago Grahak Jago” through simple information on fraudulent/ unethical practices or dilemmas and the mechanisms to seek redressal for the same. The aim is to educate customers of their rights so the companies around the world are conscious of manufacturing the most authentic and nutritional products without any side effects. Know your rights as a consumer as a Consumer Protection Act,2019 here https://consumeraffairs.nic.in/acts-and-rules/consumer-protection
Encouraging Public-private partnership
Various amendments in laws related to CSR and Corporate Governance are making companies obliged to follow the ethical rules, regulations, and policies around food. The Indian food retail market itself was expected to reach USD 894.98 billion by 2020. Apart from just complying with the CSR norms and doing the bare minimum, the Malnutrition awareness week urges the companies to come forward and establish public-private partnerships to fight malnutrition together.
How can this be achieved through Malnutrition Awareness Week?
By supporting the government through its financial resources in creating more
sustainable, resilient food systems.
By leveraging its visibility & media reach to boost nutrition-related education for all.
By collaborating with the health systems and providing health infrastructure for the needy.
By ensuring timely changes in trade, investment & healthcare policies to improve nutrition and its governance and accountability.
Meet the team of Hexagon Nutrition that is committed for decades in establishing one of the most successful public-private partnerships to fight malnutrition in India. Our team of nutrition experts is devoted to designing, manufacturing, promoting & delivering the best therapeutic foods for malnourished communities across the globe. Through our state-of-the-art technology, we aim to continue working with several governmental and non-governmental organizations to help India gain a favorable nutritional status. Wishing you all a Happy Malnutrition Awareness Week. For more information on tackling malnutrition, connect with us at www.hexagonnutrition.com