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Acute malnutrition risking 30 million children’s lives: WHO

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health


Source: DTE


Direction: The article gives a perspective on the issue of malnutrition in the world along with efforts being made by global agencies. It also briefs about the situation in India.


Context: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), conflict, climate shocks, the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and rising living costs are rendering increasing numbers of children acutely malnourished.

  • Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients.
  • It covers 2 broad groups of conditions
    • Undernutrition: It includes stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), underweight (low weight for age) and micronutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies (a lack of important vitamins and minerals).
    • Overweight: It includes obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer).

Findings of the WHO:

  • The global food crisis is leading to a health crisis, resulting in a vicious cycle – malnutrition leads to disease and disease leads to malnutrition.
  • Wasting/acute malnutrition, which is the deadliest form of undernutrition, is a major threat to children’s lives and their long-term health and development.
  • Currently, more than 30 million children in the 15 worst-affected countries suffer from this and 8 million of these children are severely wasted.
  • Meanwhile, critical health, nutrition and other life-saving services are becoming less accessible.


Efforts taken in this direction:

  • Five UN agencies including WHO is calling for accelerated progress on the Global Action Plan on Child Wasting.
  • These agencies are Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and WHO.
  • The action plan aims to prevent, detect and treat acute malnutrition among children in the worst-affected countries: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, etc.


Way ahead:

  • There is the need for urgent decisive and timely action to prevent this crisis from becoming a tragedy.
  • Greater investment in support of a coordinated UN response is the need of the hour.


Malnutrition in India:
  • Despite decades of investment to tackle this malaise, India’s child malnutrition rates (which contributes to a third of the global burden of undernutrition) are still one of the most alarming in the world.
  • The Global Hunger Index (2022), which is calculated on the basis of total undernourishment of the population, child stunting, wasting and child mortality, places India at the 107th spot among 121 countries.



Insta Links:



Mains Links:

Q. Can the vicious cycle of gender inequality. poverty and malnutrition to be broken through microfinancing of women SHGs? Explain with examples. (UPSC 2021)