Nutritional crisis during Covid to affect 9.3 mn children by 2022: Experts

Addressing a webinar on ‘Fighting nutrition crisis in India during Covid-19, especially for women and children in India’, several experts on Wednesday raised concern over the adverse effects of the pandemic which are affecting millions of children and women due to lack of intake of quality food and micronutrients.

Speaking on the occasion, Sudhir Bhandari, Principal, SMS Medical College, Jaipur, said, “India initially faced physical challenges during Covid-19. However, over time, we realised how nutrition affected the lives of many. Around 9.3 million children would be affected by 2022 out of which 20-25 per cent might suffer due to stunted growth.

“Children experiencing under-nutrition are more likely to suffer from pandemic complications as it may cause more sickness and mortality due to Covid-19 and other infectious and inflammatory diseases, including pneumonia.”

“In countries with the 1st and 2nd waves of Covid-19, obesity and non-communicable diseases have been associated with the more severe outcome of the virus. Covid-19 has had a severe effect on maternal and young children’s nutritional status. We must strengthen the food security and functioning of the food supply chain to the population.”

Bhandari added that last year, almost 58 million children between the age group of 6 months and 23 months did not develop the right eating habits.

D.K. Mangal, advisor, SD Gupta School of Public Health at IIHMR University, said, “India bears a disproportionate burden of malnutrition. Response to the pandemic has disrupted routine nutrition programmes such as the ICDS and the Mid-Day Meal programme. This has adversely affected the nutrition status of millions of children and women.”

The webinar was organised by the NGO Saksham Sanchar.

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