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Childhood stunting a big problem for India's GDP, says World Bank report

A nutrition-specific national programme can be of great help to tackle the problem of stunting.


Devdiscourse News Desk India
Updated: 15-08-2018 18:50 IST
Childhood stunting a big problem for India's GDP, says World Bank report

A nutrition-specific national programme can be of great help to tackle the problem of stunting. (Image Credit: Flickr)

Around two-thirds of India's working population suffers from stunted growth issues due to which they are earning 13 percent less than they should be becoming one of the world's highest such reductions in per capita income, reads a new report released by the World Bank.

The stunted growth impairs a child's brain development leading to cognitive and slow socio-emotional skills and lower levels of educational accomplishments. 66 percent of Indians are hence earning less than they would otherwise have made India one of the high such population. In comparison with the Sub-Saharan countries, India lost more income than people on average. However, stunting impacting a nation's economy is not limited to the Asian or African countries but is a global health issue.

South Asian countries are topping the reduction charts with 10 percent while North America with 2 percent, Middle East and Africa with 4 percent and Europe and Central Asia with a reduction of 5 percent.

Out of the 140 countries that underwent the analysis, only Bangladesh and Afghanistan surpassed India's figure with 73 percent and 67 percent respectively.

However, we need to consider the stunting of the working population and the children currently stunted as the gap is large between childhood and the time they will join the workforce.

The stunting greatly reflects the treatment of women and children in the nations and with India moving aggressively towards the population ladder, the economy is crippling and along with it, poverty is in a hike. Countries poorer than India have quite handled their stunted population like Senegal. Women's status and sanitation along with their health and nutrition determine the health of the children they will bear. Pregnancies are quite harsh for a woman in a country like India where the population outnumbers the resources available.

A nutrition-specific national programme can be of great help to tackle the problem of stunting. Just like in Peru where a combination of social-transfer programmes along with health and nutrition interventions helped with the issue.

The World Bank report calculated the returns on a national nutrition package outweighing the cost using 10 interventions focussed mainly on maternal and neonatal health.

The age lag between childhood and joining workforce if considered, the effects of a nutrition programme can show results only after 15 years of implementation. The Average rate of return predicted for the programme for India was 23 percent with an economic benefit 81 times of the cost.

COUNTRY : India

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