New Delhi: The Global Hunger Index exaggerates the measure of hunger, lacks statistical vigour and has problems on multiple counts, Union Health Ministry sources said Tuesday after India stood 107th out of 121 in this year’s rankings. It does not really measure hunger, they said while asserting that the report “deliberately ignores the tremendous efforts made by the government to ensure food security for the population, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Three out of the four indicators used are related to the health of children and cannot be representative of the entire population, sources said. They said that according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) the indicators of undernourishment, stunting, wasting and child mortality do not measure hunger per se as these are not the manifestations of hunger alone.
Many of the measures that are used to evolve an index that measures hunger are probably contextual, the ministry sources said.
Also Read: India Ranks 107 On Global Hunger Index 2022, Government Calls It An ‘Erroneous’ Measure
Claiming that the Global Hunger Index was erroneous and suffers from serious methodological issues, an official said,
It exaggerates the measure of hunger, lacks statistical vigour, has a problem of multiple counts, and gives higher representation to under-five children.
The fourth indicator, the ‘Estimate of Proportion of Undernourished Population’ for India is 16.3 per cent. For a country of the size of India, the data has been collected from a minuscule sample of 3,000 and is statistically wrong, lacks validity, biased, and unethical, sources in the ministry said.
Also, the framing of questions was inappropriate and negative. For example, respondents were asked: During the last 12 months, was there a time when, because of lack of money or other resources you were worried you would not have enough food to eat? You ate less than you thought you should? Inclusion of such questions signifies that the agencies had pre-formed biases and did not search for facts based on relevant information about the delivery of nutritional support and assurance of food security by the Government, an official source said.
Also Read: Women’s, Children’s And Adolescents’ Health Has Suffered Globally Due To COVID-19, Climate Change: United Nations
The other three indicators relate primarily to children such as stunting, wasting and under-five mortality. These indicators are the outcomes of complex interactions of factors such as drinking water, sanitation, genetics, environment and utilisation of food intake apart from hunger. Interpreting ‘hunger’ based on health indicators of children is neither scientific nor rational, the sources said. Even then their estimates are wrong as National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) has shown improvement in stunting and wasting and a significant reduction in U5MR, they said.
According to NFHS India has shown improvement in child nutrition indicators as stunting (height-for-age) among children under 5 years has declined from 38.4 per cent (NFHS 4 – 2015-16) to 35.5 per cent (NFHS-5 – 2019-21).
Wasting (weight-for-height) among children under 5 years has declined from 21.0 (NFHS 4) to 19.3 per cent (NFHS-5). Children under 5 years who are underweight (weight-for-age) declined from 35.8 (NFHS 4) to 32.1 per cent (NFHS-5) and U5MR to 109 (1990) to 42 in 2021.
In the Global Hunger Index, 2022, India ranked 107 out of 121 countries, much behind its South Asia neighbours, with the child wasting rate at 19.3 per cent, the highest in the world. With a score of 29.1, the level of hunger in India has been labelled “serious”.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development on October 15 rejected the findings, alleging it is an effort to taint the country’s image and the index suffers from serious methodological issues and is an “erroneous measure” of hunger. The opposition leaders said the government must take responsibility for its “failure”.
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(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.