Srinagar- Based on the recent evidence and their effectiveness, an analysis of district-level data published by a group of scholars in a health journal shows a worrying rise in Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in J&K where Shopian district with a grueling 17.4 percent is among the nineteen districts across India that have a very high prevalence of SAM.
The analysis titled, “Alarming level of severe acute malnutrition in Indian districts” has come at a time when even the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 showed only an overall marginal increase in levels of SAM among children in the country.
Authored by five scholars and published by BMJ Global Health—an open access online journal that publishes all aspects of global health—the report says that although the prevalence trend in SAM between NFHS-4 and NFHS-5 shows an almost stagnant position at the national level, the national average hides the worsening of SAM at several individual districts due to the improvement in other districts.
As per the analysis, in the very high category of SAM, J&K’s Shopian district ranks sixth after Bihar’s Aurangabad(18.5 %), Madhya Pradesh’s Harda (18.8 %), Maharashtra’s Dhule(18.1%), North Tripura (18.1%) and Telangana’s kamareddy (17.9%).
The analysis has also noted that the highest increase between 2016 and 2021 was recorded in the district of Karimganj in Assam (6.1%– 30.5%); Sheohar in Bihar (4.3%–21.4%); Saraikela Kharsawan in Jharkhand (8.9%–23%); North Tripura district in Tripura, (4.3%–18.1%); Kupwara (1%– 14.7%) and Shopian (3.8%–17.4%) in Jammu and Kashmir.
Besides this, the analysis further notes that J&K has six districts which are currently battling undernutrition and fall under the serious category of SAM.
“Among the 86 districts in the serious category, there were 13 districts each from the state of Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh; 9 districts from Gujarat; 6 districts each from Telangana, Jammu and Kashmir and Karnataka; 5 districts each from Bihar, Assam and Rajasthan; 4 districts from Odisha; 3 districts from Madhya Pradesh; 2 districts each from Jharkhand, West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh; and 1 district each from Chhattisgarh, Nagaland, Sikkim,Delhi and Tamil Nadu.” reads the analysis.
According to the analysis, between 2016 and 2021(NFHS-4 and NFHS-5), severe wasting, or severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in preschool children (aged 0-59 months) increased in 341 districts out of 707 across 36 states and Union Territories.
Notably, the analysis has also revealed that J&K has two districts that have recorded a 10% increase in SAM in the past five years.
“17 districts recorded more than 10% of the increase in SAM between NFHS-4 and NFHS-5. These districts are from Uttar Pradesh (n=4), two districts each from Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Telangana, and one district each from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal,” reads the analysis.
The analysis has also concluded that the data represented in NFHS-5 was primarily collected before the COVID-19 pandemic. “Hence, the nutritional trend in the majority of the districts revealed in NFHS-5 is the status before the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown was declared on 11 March 2020. It is likely that the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures to control it have further amplified the existing nutritional crisis,” the analysis noted.
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