India is home to the largest number of stunted children in the world
Children in India, on average, are shorter than those born in the poorest African countries. A recent study by a London-based organisation, WaterAid, reveals that India alone, contributes nearly 40 per cent of the stunted children under the age of five. Stunted growth, which is a consequence of malnutrition in the first 1,000 days—from conception until the age of two—not only affects children’s height but also impairs their cognitive development.
Half of all cases of undernutrition are associated with repeated diarrhoea, intestinal worms and other infections due to inadequate sanitation. These infections prevent children from absorbing the nutrients they need to grow physically and mentally.
The report explains the scale of the problem by brings some alarming facts to the fore:
Crucial days ahead
In 2015, world leaders had agreed on a new set of sustainable development goals with the sixth goal making a promise of providing adequate, equitable access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene for everyone.
The issue of stunted growth due to poor sanitation is likely to be brought up in different international platforms in the coming months. The Nutrition for Growth event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the World Bank’s summit on Stunting and Early Childhood Development in October 2016 and the G7 Summit in Italy in 2017 will be the right occasions for heads of states and international agencies to chalk out a pan to tackle this issue, especially when children are at the frontline.
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