[Editorial Analysis] The nutrition-hygiene link

Mains Paper 2: National
Prelims level: Malnutrition/Sanitation
Mains level: Issues related to Social Sector


• In the 75th year of independence, though India has a lot to rejoice about, India has a mammoth challenge i.e. Nutritional insecurity which will cripple the entire future generation.

India and Malnutrition State:

• As per the UNICEF report, in the next 6 months, nearly 3 lakh children from India could die due to routine health services and increasing wasting.

• According to NFHS 5, the acute undernourishment in children under below 5 years has worsened and 1 in every 3 children suffering from chronic malnourishment.

• In India at present, 37.9% of children under 5 are stunted, 20.8% are wasted

Reasons for this:

• Inadequate dietary intake,

• Contaminated drinking water

• Poor sanitation

• Unhygienic living conditions

• Environmental enteropathy (it is a disorder of the intestine which prevents the proper absorption of nutrients, rendering them effectively useless).

The Nutrition and WASH inter-linkage:

• According to WHO, 50% of all kinds of malnutrition can be traced to diarrhea and intestinal worm infections which are the direct result of poor water, sanitation and hygiene.

• Across the globe, for a long time, it has greatly emphasized the nutrition and WASH interdependence suggesting greater attention and investment in WASH as a sure shot for bolstering India’s nutritional status.

• This interdependence appeared first in the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989 that urged states to ensure adequate nutritious food and clean drinking water to combat disease and malnutrition.

• The Johns Hopkins school also highlighted that poor hygiene and sanitation in developing countries lead to environmental enteropathy in children that causes nutritional malabsorption and source for many diseases mainly diarrhoeal diseases.

• As per NFHS 4, in India 9% of a child under 5 experience diarrhoeal diseases.

• In this regard, safe drinking water, proper sanitation and hygiene can significantly reduce diarrhoeal and nutritional deaths.

• According to WHO, access to proper water, hygiene and sanitation can prevent the deaths of at least 8.6L children/year by under-nutrition.

Way ahead:

• For India, proper hygiene and nutrition measures will not only aid India’s fight against malnutrition, also safeguard against monsoon-related health challenges.

• India needs a coordinated, multi-sectoral approach among health, WASH bodies along with strong community engagement.

• An integrated approach to nutrition and WASH at all levels is the need of the hour to tackle the problem of malnutrition issue.

• There is a need for building awareness and accelerating the implementation of clean and safe living strategies.


Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the Indian economic growth, consider the following statements:

1. Gross Value Added (GVA) in the economy during the April to June period rose 18.8%, as per the National Statistical Office (NSO), from a 22.2% dip in the first quarter of 2020-21.

2. The first quarter GDP was even lower than that of the first quarter of 2018-19.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: C

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