• Tuesday, December 05, 2023


Delhi slams ‘flawed and malafide’ child malnutrition index

By: Eastern Eye

INDIA was ranked 111th out of 125 countries in the Global Hunger Index-2023, but the government rejected the measure as erroneous.

The index, released last Thursday (12), also said India has the highest child wasting rate in the world at 18.7 per cent, reflecting acute undernutrition.

India ranked 107th out of 121 countries in the 2022 edition of the Global Hunger Index (GHI), a tool to measure and track hunger at global, regional, and national levels.

With a score of 28.7 in the Global Hunger Index-2023, India has a level of hunger that is “serious”, according to a report based on the index.

Pakistan (102), Bangladesh (81), Nepal (69) and Sri Lanka (60) fared better in the index.

South Asia and Africa South of the Sahara are the world regions with the highest hunger levels, with a GHI score of 27 each, indicating serious hunger.

“India has the highest child wasting rate in the world, at 18.7 per cent, reflecting acute undernutrition,” the report based on the index stated. Wasting is measured based on children’s weight, relative to their height.

According to the index, the rate of undernourishment in India stood at 16.6 per cent and underfive mortality at 3.1 per cent.

The report also said the prevalence of anaemia in women aged between 15 and 24 years stood at 58.1 per cent.

The government, however, rejected the index calling it a flawed measure of “hunger” that does not reflect India’s true position.

The Women and Child Development Ministry said the index suffers from “serious methodological issues and shows a malafide intent”.

“The index is an erroneous measure of hunger and suffers from serious methodological issues. Three out of the four indicators used for calculation of the index are related to the health of children and cannot be representative of the entire population. The fourth and most important indicator ‘Proportion of Undernourished (PoU) population’ is based on an opinion poll conducted on a very small sample size of 3,000,” it said.

The ministry said that since April 2023, the measurement data of children under five years uploaded on the Poshan Tracker has consistently increased – from 6.34 crore in April 2023 to 7.24 crore in September 2023.

“The percentage of child wasting, as seen on the Poshan Tracker, has been consistently below 7.2 per cent, month-on-month, as compared to the value of 18.7 per cent used for child wasting in the Global Hunger Index 2023,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry further said two other indicators, namely stunting and wasting, are outcomes of complex interactions of various other factors like sanitation, genetics, environment and utilisation of food intake apart from hunger which is taken as the causative/outcome factor for stunting and wasting in the GHI. Also, there is hardly any evidence that the fourth indicator – child mortality – is an outcome of hunger, it said.

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