New Delhi: India child stunting rate is 37.9%, which is categorized as very high in terms of its public health significance.Rajasthan has 39.1% of children (under-5 years), who have stunted growth. India stands tall in world power, and economic development but these figures of health and nutrition give a very depressing picture. 21% of children under five in India are wasted and data shows that disturbing trend on malnutrition in India. It is a high time we should take steps to address this issue. We must take up small steps which will give us direction towards future growth. This was stated by Dr. Subodh Agarwal, Additional Chief Secretary(Industries) Government of Rajasthan, who was the Chief Guest at Rajasthan Food Fortification Summit 2019, held at Hotel Marriott. The Summit was organized by Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR)in partnership with Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).
On the occasion, Secretary, Skills, Employment & Entrepreneurship and Labour, Government of Rajasthan, Mr. Naveen Jain said that we need to be a leader and take up fast steps and implement it to achieve our goals. Nutrition is a very important issue but still it has always been left behind. There is a huge gap in conceptualising and implementation at the ground level.
President, IIHMR U, Dr. Pankaj Gupta, said that Malnutrition is a grave issue that has plagued the progress of the nation. Here, Micronutrient malnutrition is prevalent in all age and socio-economic groups, making it a burgeoning issue that India should tackle. Today the rate of child stunting is 37.9% whereas the rate of child wasting is 28.8. Food fortification is a viable solution to solve this issue effectively. We should take initiative to find the solutions and try to decrease the rate of malnutrition to maintain the demographic dividend of the country.
Head Programs, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Mr. Deepti Gulati gave a brief of relevance of Food Fortification. Fortification give us nutrition, gives us Vitamin A and enrich our food. Nutrition is very vital as it defines health and central to the growth and development. She laid stress on strengthening regulatory monitoring to ensure the quality and safety of fortified foods and make it mandatory to fortify oil and milk with Vitamin A and D.
Country Director, GAIN, Mr. Tarun Vij, gave a brief of GAIN and how it is reaching out to the people in Rajasthan. He said that the products produced by GAIN is reaching to 650 million Indian citizens. He said that GAIN facilitates partnerships and lead in alliances and work along with Government sectors for deeper penetration at state level.
Initially, Project Director, Food Fortification Project andPro-President, IIHMR U, Dr. P R Sodani welcomed the delegates. This is the first and the biggest event on Food Fortification in Rajasthan and congratulated the Government of Rajasthan and Development partners for coming together in one platform to make it a success. He further shared that almost 6 crore people are consuming fortified oil and 100 plus industries producing it in Rajasthan, which is a very favourable figure.
It is to be noted that The Indian Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR), Jaipur has successfully implemented a food fortification project, titled Integrated Program Strategy in Rajasthan, since February 2011 with technical and financial support from GAIN. The university has been an executive agency to implement the project titled “Promoting and Strengthening Edible Oil Fortification in Rajasthan, Haryana, and Punjab”.