A new survey, called the Jaccha-Baccha Survey (JABS), conducted in June in six states (Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh) to map the state of pregnant and nursing women has found that a high proportion of women do not eat enough during pregnancy.
The survey was conducted under the guidance of development economists Jean Dreze and Reetika Khera.
Within the six states, which the survey divided into laggard and leader states, Uttar Pradesh, which is India’s most populous, performed the worst, while Himachal Pradesh, on average, performed the best.
UP also threw up the worst numbers on pregnant women not getting adequate rest — either because they had no one to help out at home, or because they had to actually go out and work on the farm in their condition.
The proportion of women who had to borrow or sell assets just to meet child delivery expenses too, was quite high, especially among the laggard states.
On access to basic healthcare facilities, the survey found that 36% women in UP did not get a single check-up at a primary health centre across different schemes.
The poor health of pregnant and nursing women, as well as inadequate healthcare infrastructure, lie at the heart of India’s child nutrition crisis. The latest Global Hunger Index released in October pegged India at a lowly 102 out of a total of 117 countries. One of the key findings of GHI was that ‘child wasting’ (that is, children having low weight for their height) — which essentially shows the extent of acute malnutrition — had gone up over the past decade. At almost 21%, India’s child wasting level is the highest in the world.
Combined with almost 38% of child stunting (that is, children who have low height for their age), India has the highest number of undernourished children in the world.
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