A delegation of health workers of Delhi and Save the Children International CEO Jasmine Whitbread, Save the Children India Chairman Harpal Singh and CEO Thomas Chandy today asked Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to constitute and chair a Nutrition Mission, to which she agreed. Save the Children's global report on malnutrition, A Life free From Hunger, was presented to the Chief Minister by the delegation, who congratulated her for Delhi meeting the MDG4 (Millennium Development Goal 4) target on child mortality. Stating the critical need to deal with malnutrition, Mr Singh said, "The demographic dividend can only happen if children are healthy."
The presentation of A Life Free from Hunger is part of Save the Children's global campaign on newborn child survival.
Asking Ms Dikshit to constitute a Nutrition Mission, Save the Children India CEO Thomas Chandy said India's progress on the infant and child mortality rates in relation to the MDG 4 target was inadequate. "There is a strong link between nutrition and child mortality. As many as 48% of India's children are stunted (too short for their age), which has a serious bearing on their health," he said. While India is aiming to reduce its child mortality to 40 per 100,000 births, Delhi is already at 37.
However, there is still a lot to be done. Delhi's figures on stunted and underweight children (43.2% and 24.9%) are marginally better than India's (44.9% and 22.9%). Save the Children's Senior Advisor on Maternal and Neonatal Child Health and Nutrition Dr. Rajiv Tandon said, "In spite of Delhi doing well on mortality under 5, the indicators with regard to malnutrition still need a lot of improvement."
While congratulating the CM for its initiative "Mission Convergence" which has been recognized for integrating government programmes related to human development indicators in Delhi, Save the Children has volunteered to provide assistance to Mission Convergence focusing on nutrition security.
Stating that children were India's future, Ms. Dikshit said, "If our future is weak, our society will face serious difficulties. If a child is born weak or gets weak because of nutrition-related reasons, we have to pay attention."
She added that parents of children - especially mothers - needed to be educated on what is a good diet. "We cannot talk in terms of calories, proteins and carbohydrates. We have to tell parents what they should provide to children - daliya, vegetables, fruit, etc."
Ms Dikshit said that the Delhi Government had planned to convene a meeting under noted agriculture scientist Prof. MS Swaminathan and chair of Coalition for Sustainable Nutrition Security in India on March 13 to launch the Delhi State Nutrition Mission.
Notes to editors:
Save the Children's new report is part of their global EVERY ONE campaign to save millions of children's lives by stopping them dying from basic illnesses we know how to prevent and treat. The survey was carried out by Globescan, international polling agency, in December 2011 and January 2012 in Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Peru. These countries are the home of half of the world's 170m million stunted children. Proportion of stunted children in countries surveyed: Nigeria 43% (10.9M), Pakistan 42% (10.1M) of children stunted, Bangladesh 43% (7M), India 48% (60.5M), Peru 24% (712,560)8.
A randomly-selected sample of over 1000 adults over 18 years was interviewed in each country spanning both urban and rural areas. The data were weighted by income group and male and female. The results are nationally representative. In all but Bangladesh, the interviews were carried out face to face. In Bangladesh, where the penetration rate of mobile phone among adults is between 80 and 90%, the interviews were carried out through random direct dialing.
Anupam Srivastava, Save the Children, 9910093893, firstname.lastname@example.org
Valay Singh, Save the Children, email@example.com, 9717676026