By Basanta Kumar Kar*
The Coalition for Food and Nutrition Security (CFNS) convened the 2016 Global Nutrition Report launch in on 14 June in New Delhi, India in collaboration with International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The authors of The Global Nutrition Report 2016 discussed the importance of underlying determinants of nutrition and the role of food security, health systems, education, water and sanitation and other delivery platforms. With 38.7% prevalence of stunning among children under five years of age and 22% adult overweight and obesity prevalence; India’s double burden of malnutrition calls for an emergency repair to a broken food system. The presentation of the report in India by Ms. Purnima Menon offered an opportunity for India’s nutrition policy community to discuss the priorities for nutrition in India.
‘’Restructure India’s ICDS and build on the evidence and best practices to find a solution’’ reiterated Neerja Chowdhury, the political commentator and 2016 Transform Nutrition Champion. ”Good nutrition needs strong political will, multi-stakeholder platforms and solutions in an Indian way”, said, Mr. Baijayant Panda, an eminent and influential parliamentarian who has worked with the Citizens’ Alliance against Malnutrition, a prominent advocacy group along with Neerja Chowdhury and others.
The Global Nutrition Report Launch in New Delhi, India set the scene for a new chapter. Eminent and influential parliamentarians, The State Women Commission Chair and Food Commission member, numerous policy makers, members of Transform Nutrition Leaders Network and civil society leaders across the country emphasised a number of important issues. These included:
- political commitment,
- setting targets and accountability standards,
- addressing social exclusion,
- the need for an India Nutrition Report (INR),
- finding solutions in Indian way and
- a new generation Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) to tackle malnutrition.
”Nutrition must be part of individual and collective ideology and India’s ICDS needs restructuring. We need a new generation institution to tackle malnutrition in India”, reiterated Ms. Poonam Mahajan, an eminent parliamentarian with much applause from the audience. Ms. Mahajan expressed her commitment to the cause. ”Breast feeding is the best feeding and finding solutions to malnutrition in an Indian way is vital”, reiterated Mr. A V Swamy, a development activist turned respected parliamentarian.
Many delegates agreed that India has to align with World Health Assembly targets and Sustainable Development Goals to emerge as a global nutrition pioneer. Thought provoking questions, queries and clarifications kept the discussion rolling until late evening. Mr. Amulya Ratna, Vice Chair of the Coalition and eminent policy maker in India reiterated the need for an India Nutrition Report and invited all to combat malnutrition together. The final message from Lawrence Haddad, Co-Chair of the Global Nutrition Report “to keep the momentum up and the pressure on” echoed around the room.
*Basanta Kumar Kar is a Senior Advisor, The Coalition for Food and Nutrition Security(India), 2016 Transform Nutrition Champion and Co-Convener- Transform Nutrition Leaders Network- South Asia. firstname.lastname@example.org