NEW DELHI: RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) has sought local solutions in place of packaged food to deal with the issue of malnutrition among children. The SJM has accused that the multilateral bodies, including the World Bank and UNICEF, have been advocating the ready to use therapeutic foods to serve their vested interests.
“As far as international data is concerned, several experts and research bodies have questioned the evidence for the routine use of ready to use therapeutic foods for severe acute malnutrition (SAM). India cannot afford to allow this dangerous trend to come in and tear apart its food system. It is no doubt very expensive also and not sustainable,” the SJM convenor Ashwani Mahajan has written in a letter to the Union Minister for Women and Child development Maneka Gandhi.
He stated that “to recent media report, Maharashtra has floated a Rs 100 Crore plan to tackle malnutrition in rural areas with packed food to be given to each child three times a day for 72 days at cost of Rs 25 per packet. It comes to Rs 75 per day.
We, therefore, request you to frame a clear policy to guide the states on most sustainable and local solutions, which are indigenous, economical and culturally relevant,” said Mahajan.
He noted that more than 44 million children under the age five remain chronically undernourished in India. “This is a grave situation and its negative impact is often irreversible. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) data on child feeding and nutrition shows stunting is 38.4 per cent, underweight is 35.7 per cent, and severely wasted is 7.5 per cent. India is currently reducing child under-nutrition at the rate of one per cent per year which is not a satisfactory pace at all,” added Mahajan.