The recent National Family Health Survey revealed that nine out of 10 children in the age group six to 23 months do not receive an adequate diet – a finding lamented by the Child Rights & You (CRY), a non-governmental organisation that promotes children’s rights and welfare.
Deprived of a healthy start, millions of these children will suffer from undernutrition not just during childhood, but for the rest of their lives, the organisation said.
“Illness in children and lack of adequate and appropriate nutrition is a vicious cycle which needs constant attention through preventive as well as promotive approaches,” said Komal Ganotra, director of Policy, Research and Advocacy for CRY.
Some of the ‘worst performing’ states included Rajasthan, the lowest with only 3% of children in the age group getting adequate diet. Uttar Pradesh recorded 5%, and the national capital, which was perceived as the most equipped to provide more nutrition, only registered 6%.
“Even Tamil Nadu which has the highest percentage of children receiving adequate nutrition did not cross 31%,” CRY noted.
CRY stressed the need to implement the right nutrition programmes to address this issue.
"The Integrated Child Development Scheme, which addresses nutritional needs of children in an early age (under six) and expectant mothers, has the right intent to ensure a solid foundation for children when maximum brain development occurs,” Ganotra said.
"It is non-negotiable for the state to ensure adequate budget and robust implementation mechanism for greater convergence of health and nutrition services for every child in the country.”