Action needed to address child malnutrition in Odisha, India

Friday, 12 Feb 2016
New evidence highlights urgent need for multi-sectorial approach to address child malnutrition in Odisha. The prevalence of undernutrition in children under five in India has declined significantly in the last 10-15 years, but in several states, including Odisha, it remains unacceptably high.

Although the state government’s Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) has a good record for innovation, for example, providing eggs as part of free meals for young children attending Anganwadi centres, there has been little change in the rate of undernutrition between 2005/6 and 2014.

A recent DFID-funded survey, known as Concurrent Monitoring round two (CCM II), shows that in 2014, over 25% of children under five in rural Odisha state suffered from acute malnutrition[1], and 48% of children were stunted[2], compared to 21% and 47% in 2005/06 (NFHS)[3].

These findings are supported by two high level reports; The Global Nutrition Report and the India Health Report on Nutrition, both released in 2015. These reports highlight that despite considerable declines in under nutrition nationally since 2006, large state-wide disparities exist.

Both CCM II and a previous round of Concurrent Monitoring were implemented by the Government of Odisha, with support from the Options- led Technical and Management Support Team and IPE, . The surveys introduced a method for independent feedback on use of health, nutrition and WASH services, quality and outcomes, and are the first in India to provide household, block-level data disaggregated by socio-demographic characteristics including caste and standard of living. The methodology for CCM II paid particular attention to inclusiveness of the sampling, ensuring that respondents from all backgrounds and the most remote hamlets were represented.

Despite differing survey methodologies, the strikingly similar results from three independent sources collected in 2014[4], shows limited progress has been made in improving the nutritional status of children under five in the past 10 years.

The Global Nutrition Report, the India Health Report on Nutrition, and CCM II report highlight the need for timely and high quality data on the use of services and key health, nutrition and WASH indicators, to inform government departments and civil society about the impact of programmes on the health and nutritional status of communities. All the data sets reinforce the need for a stronger multi-sectoral approach to nutrition at policy, planning and implementation levels in order to make a dent on the high burden of undernutrition in the state.

From 2012, in partnership with IPE Global, we have been increasing our focus on nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene in Odisha.

[1] Defined as weight-for-height z-score <-2.

[2] Defined as height-for-age z-score <-2.

[3] National Family Health Survey, India.

[4] CCMI, RSOC and the Annual Health Survey

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