India constitutes 40 per cent of the world's malnourished population and the highest rate of underweight children due to improper implementation of government policies, a global health expert has said.
M G Venkatesh Mannar, president of Canada-based NGO Micronutrient Initiative, said India's condition despite being an emerging economy was bad in terms of health and nutrition as compared to other countries like Brazil, Nepal, Bangladesh and China.
"India has the highest rates of stunted growth, underweight and anaemia in children. And the most ironic part is that India has all the programs and policies required to handle the problem but then there is no proper implementation.
"Here it cuts across many ministries like the Ministry of Health, Women and Child Development, Education and Rural Development. Thus there are no champions of this problem and also no proper accountability," Mannar, who is one of the co-authors of the 2013 Lancet series on Maternal and Child Undernutrition, told PTI.
There is a lack of coordination between the state and Centre because of which there is a problem of implementation of the policies and programmes made in this regard, Mannar, who was also honoured with Canada's highest civilian award 'The Order of Canada', said.
"The astonishing part is that National Family Health Survey has not been done since 2005. We still look at the old figures and we are not aware whether we have progressed or regressed," he said.
He, however, praised some states like Maharashtra for achieving their targets. "If Maharashtra can do it, why other states can't?" he asked.
Appealing to the government to take action, he said India does not have to look outside for any help as it has all the policies and resources required to solve the problem.
"India just needs to get into action otherwise there will be severe consequences. What would all that economic growth mean if the new generation turns unproductive and perform below the world standards?" he asked. According to World's Children Report 2013 prepared by the UNICEF, India ranks 49th in the Under 5 Mortality rate whereas China, Brazil, Nepal and Bangladesh stand at 115, 107, 57 and 60 respectively.
The neo-natal mortality rate 2011 of India is 32 per 1,000 live births whereas it is 10 per 1,000 live births in Brazil and 26 per 1,000 live births in Bangladesh. India's infant mortality rate has reduced from 81 per 1,000 lives to 47 per 1,000 between 1990 and 2011 whereas it has reduced from 49 to 14 per 1,000 lives in Brazil during the same period.