In December 2020, the government released the results of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 5 for 2019-20, covering 22 states and Union Territories (UTs).
Contrary to expectations, NFHS5 found an increase in the percentage of stunted children in 13 states and UTs, compared to the results of NFHS4.
A recent paper, released by the New Delhi based Observer Research Foundation (ORF), analyses such reversal of the three-decadal progress that India had previously made in reducing stunting in children.
It analyses the determinants of such a regression and proposes measures that need urgent attention. The paper notes a percentage-point increase in the coverage of nutrition-sensitive interventions that address the underlying determinants of child undernutrition, including improvement in women’s status and the provision of maternal health services, as well as child health services.
It argues for positioning the reduction of child undernutrition high in the national development agenda and addressing the immediate determinant of undernutrition by strengthening the complementaryfeeding component of the national nutrition mission.
"The findings of NFHS 5 call on India to seize the current opportunity of the current national efforts of the National Nutrition Mission or the POSHAN Abhiyaan as well as the recently issued “Eat Right” policy to address the gaps in young child feeding inputs—the immediate determinant of child undernutrition. With government support and setting accountabilities, complementary feeding in fact needs to be made a “Jan Andolan”, for ensuring timely and intensive public involvement in preventing stunting as well as overweight and micronutrient deficiencies in children", said Dr. Sheila C. Vir, Director, Public Health Nutrition and Development Centre.