Mumbai, also known as the financial capital of India, is failing to sufficiently feed its citizens. Between 40 and 60 percent of the city's nearly 7.3 lakh slum children up to four years of age are malnourished and between 7.5 and 30 percent are severely malnourished. The Indian government puts the figures at the lower end while academics and social workers say estimates are at the higher end.
According to the state government's data, 3.5 percent of Greater Mumbai's slum children under six die every year because of poor nutrition and increased risk of infections - a figure largely accepted by academics and social workers.
The city has about 7.3 lakh slum children below the age of four, according to the government National Family Health Survey, so at least 25,550 -- 3.5 percent of 7.3 lakh -- children die of malnutrition and related illnesses every year. (There are deaths among children between 4 and 6, but those under 4 constitute the bulk.)
Mumbai is not the only place seeing malnutrition. The problem of malnutrition is widespread in most of the rural areas of the country. Officials estimate that today malnutrition – which officials call "under nutrition" – prevails among a little less than 50 percent children.
To fight the problem, government has proposed a nutrition mission. Ten interventions proposed for the Nutrition Mission:
1. Initiation of breastfeeding within an hour of birth
2. Exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months
3. Introduction of complementary food at six months
4. Age-appropriate foods for children six months to two years
5. Hygienic complementary feeding practices
6. Immunization and bi-annual vitamin A supplementation with de-worming
7. Appropriate feeding for children during and after illness
8. Therapeutic feeding for children with severe acute malnutrition
9. Adequate nutrition and support for adolescent girls to prevent anemia
10. Adequate nutrition and support for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers
Hope the proposed interventions work to reduce the malnutrition situation in the country. A nation where children die of malnutrition, cannot aspire for a healthy and strong future.