India ranks a low 100th out of 119 countries on the Global Hunger Index (GHI) released Thursday. This is worse than the likes of North Korea, Bangladesh, and Iraq, and better only than Pakistan and Afghanistan among Asian countries.
"The results of this year's Global Hunger Index show that we can not waiver in our resolve to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger by 2030", Shenggen Fan, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute said in a statement. The region is followed closely by Africa South of the Sahara.
The GHI, now in its 12th year, ranks countries based on four key indicators - undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting and child stunting.
However, the country made some improvement in the areas such as the still relatively high child stunting rate that has come down by 29 percent, since the year 2000.
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India was placed 97 in the last year's GHI and this year's result suggests that one-fifth to one-quarter of the children under five weigh too little for their height due to nutritional deficiencies, IFPRI's report read. The prevalence of wasting in children under five years have improved by about only 1 percent to 21 percent from 20 percent in 1992, according to the GHI data.
It has been ranked third-worst in Asia, who only fared better than Afghanistan and Pakistan. On the GHI severity scale, India is at the high end of the "serious" category, owing mainly to the fact that one in every five children under age 5 is "wasted" (low weight for height).
Also adding a growing need of concern for child nutrition in India, the latest 2015-16 National Family Health Survey (NFHS) showed that the availability of solid food with breast milk for young children in the country declined to 42.7% from 52.7 %.
"With a GHI score that is near the high end of the serious category, it is obvious that a high GDP growth rate alone is no guarantee of food and nutrition security for India's vast majority", said Nivedita Varshneya, India director of Welthungerhilfe, a non-profit which co-authored the GHI report with IFPRI.
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However, he said that the on-going efforts are expected to make significant changes in improving the existing situation.
Citing a study, the report states India has implemented a "massive scale-up" of two national programs that address nutrition-the Integrated Child Development Services and the National Health Mission-but these have yet to achieve adequate coverage.
Of the 119 countries assessed in this year's report, seven countries fall in the alarming range, 44 in the serious range, and 24 in the moderate range.
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