Need social engineering to overcome malnutrition: Dr Mahtab Bamji
Chennai, March 3, 2017: The tools of science and technology are available but ‘social engineering’ is needed to overcome malnutrition, said Dr Mahtab Sohrab Bamji, Emeritus Scientist, Indian National Science Academy at MSSRF.
Delivering a seminar on “Current Issues in Nutrition” Dr Bamji spoke about taboos during pregnancy and lactation that prevent women from gaining the benefits of food. Misconceptions around consuming papaya and banana, throwing away water from boiled rice and discarding the colustrum, (first breast milk) are some practices still prevalent she said. There is also misconception that breastfeeding alone is required for the first year of birth with complementary feeding being neglected after six months.
Dr Bamji, while speaking about the SDGs, said despite the severity of malnutrition coming down in India in recent years, there were wide disparities within the States. While Gujarat has done well in economic development, it fares badly on human development indices. In contrast, Kerala fares the best on human development indicators, mainly due to women’s education. There was usually correlation between malnutrition and human development, rather than economic development.
One-third of child deaths in India were caused due to malnutrition said Dr Bamji, giving an overview of various nutritional deficiencies that were now emerging, including Vitamin A , B and D, anemia and calcium which also were due to incorrect food habits.
The nutritionist talked about Dangoria Charitable Trust’s field level intervention, in Telengana, where focus is on awareness among community members to enhance the nutritional status of families. She pointed out that only when awareness, access and affordability come together, can the community reap the benefits towards a much better nutrition status.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.