Sunday, November 25, 2012

Modi’s ‘beauty’ pill hard to swallow

 Gujarat EDN
DNA 31AUG2012

Experts say lack of nutritious food, drinking water and sanitation, not obsession with body, driving up malnutrition in women
Smitha R l Ahmedabad
Contrary to what Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi would have us believe, it is actually the lack of nutritious food coupled with several other factors that is leading to high incidence of malnourishment in the state.
Unlike Modi, neither the Union government nor experts working in the field of health and nutrition believe that it is obsession with their body that is driving women towards malnutrition.
Apart from women, the National Family Health Survey-3 in its analysis has clearly mentioned the high incidence of malnutrition among children as well as adults.
The survey in its analysis had stated that children’s nutritional status in Gujarat has not improved in the seven long years since NFHS-2. “Our women don’t get enough food to eat. Particularly in the villages, they are overburdened with work and have no time to concentrate on either their health or their children’s health,” said Smita Bajpai, programme officer, Centre for Health Education, Training and Nutrition Awareness (CHETNA). She said that inadequate coverage of nutrition supplement schemes is another factor.
Poor sanitation and lack of access to safe drinking water also compound the problem,” said Bajpai. Dr Harshad Vaidya, who has extensively worked in rural parts of Gujarat including the tribal areas, said that one major factor is that women’s health is not a priority in our society. “There are three major factors for malnutrition—poor economic condition, lack of priority to women’s health and frequent pregnancies that a woman, particularly in rural areas, has,” said Dr Vaidya.He further said that the poor find it difficult to find two square meals a day, a fact that makes quality of food a secondary consideration. This adds to the malnutrition, he said.
In reply to an unstarred question (number 2472) from Rajya Sabha MP Dilip Pandya on malnourishment among women and children in Gujarat, union minister of state for women and child development Krishna Tirath on April 26 had also listed out various factors for the same. Needless to say, the minister’s answer did not make any mention of obsession with a thin body. “Malnutrition is complex, multi-dimensional and inter-generational in nature. The causes are varied and include inadequate consumption of food, frequent infections, lack of availability of safe drinking water and proper sanitation,” Tirath had said in her reply. “Illiteracy, specially in women, poor access to health services, low purchasing power, socio-cultural factors such as early marriages of girls, lack of care during pregnancy and infancy, ignorance about nutritional needs of infants and young children,” are some of the other factors Tirath had listed in her reply.