No nutrition survey in India in last 10 years

Article Source :Times of India

Date of Issue :5th April, 2015

Title of Article : No nutrition survey in India in last 10 years; Bangladesh performs better

Details : They may have lower growth rates than India, but Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal are more prompt about conducting regular surveys on the nutritional status of their population. The last nutrition survey done in India was ten years ago despite its unacceptably high levels of malnutrition. During this period, neighbouring nations have completed two surveys.

There has been no district level nutritional survey in India since 2002, more than 13 years back. National Statistical Commission chairman Pronab Sen when speaking at a round-table event on nutrition data said that there was “too little nutrition data” for policy makers and the new National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data would be crucial for rolling out new policy programmes to address malnutrition and other health issues.

“There is enough evidence to show a huge variance in the status of nutrition of children in tribal and non-accessible areas in a state vis-a-vis urban areas. For any nutrition or health scheme to be planned and implemented, it is therefore essential to have the district level data. However, it is ironic that the ‘latest’ government data for districts available is 13 years old (DLHS -2, 2002). It is appalling that the planning of our nutrition related schemes is being done primarily based on the state data, without taking into consideration the critical variance within the states with respect to the most affected and marginalized,” said Komal Ganotra, director of policy, research and advocacy in the NGO CRY – Child Rights and You.

The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), a maternal and child nutritional programmes, is supposedly on a mission mode in almost 200 backward districts to address malnutrition. Districts are supposed to draw up a project implementation plan (PIP). But district ICDS officers are expected to draw up the PIP on the basis of 13 year old data.

After NFHS 3 in 2005-06, the field work for NFHS-4 is currently on. After data collection there is the laborious and time-consuming process of checking data quality, verifying data, cross checking and then analysis. The data is not expected before the end of this year and district level data from it might not be available till well into 2016. The first round of NFHS survey took place in 1992-93, the second round in 1998-99 and the third round in 2005-6, after which there have been none.

Data from the Rapid Survey on Children (RSOC) carried out by Unicef and the women and child development (WCD) ministry in 2013 is yet to be made available. The data was sent to the health ministry for review about six months back by the WCD ministry, but nothing has moved since. Even the district level household and facility survey (DLHS) in 2013 did not provide any district-level nutritional data. Even if, as RSOC national level data suggests, stunting levels among children has fallen from 48% to 39%, it is still very high and probably masks much higher levels of undernutrition at state and district level.