• According to the Women and Child Development Ministry, more than 9.2 lakh children (from six months to six years) in India were ‘severely acute malnourished’ till November, 2020.
  • It underscores concerns that the Covid-19 pandemic could exacerbate the health and nutrition crisis among the poorest of the poor.

Important points:

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines ‘severe acute malnutrition’ (SAM) by very low weight-for-height or a mid-upper arm circumference less than 115 mm, or by the presence of nutritional oedema.
  • Children suffering from SAM are nine times more likely to die in case of diseases due to their weakened immune system.
  • Abnormal fluid retention in the tissues (oedema) resulting especially from lack of protein in states of starvation or malnutrition.
  • Oedema can, however, occur in starvation even if the blood levels of albumin are not lowered.


  • An estimated 9,27,606 ‘severely acute malnourished’ children from six months to six years were identified across the country till November 2020.
  • The most in Uttar Pradesh (3,98,359 ) followed by Bihar (2,79,427).
  • Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are also home to the highest number of children in the country.
  • States with No Severely Malnourished Children: Ladakh, Lakshadweep, Nagaland, Manipur and Madhya Pradesh reported no severely malnourished children.
  • The National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4), 2015-16 suggests that prevalence of severe acute malnutrition among children was at 7.4%.
  • NFHS-5 suggests that malnutrition increased among children in 2019-20 from 2015-16 in 22 states and UTs.
  • Around 13 states and UTs out of the 22 surveyed recorded a rise in percentage of children under five years who are stunted in comparison to 2015-16.
  • Stunting is when a child has a low height for their age, usually due to malnutrition, repeated infections, and/or poor social stimulation
  • 12 states and UTs recorded a rise in the percentage of children under five years who are wasted.
  • Wasting is low weight for their height among children, reflecting acute undernutrition. It is a strong predictor of mortality among children under five years of age.
  • Severely wasted and underweight: 16 states and UTs recorded a rise in the percentage of children under five years who are severely wasted and underweight in 2019-20.
  • Covid-19 is pushing millions into poverty, reducing incomes of many more and disproportionately affecting the economically disadvantaged, who are also most vulnerable to malnutrition and food insecurities.
  • The pandemic-prompted lockdowns disrupted essential services, such as supplementary feeding under Anganwadi centres, mid-day meals, immunisation, and micro-nutrient supplementation which exacerbated malnutrition.

Way Forward

Home Based and Facility Based Care: Covid-19 could further exacerbate the situation with shrinking food diversity and low intake combined with episodes of missing food at times. The solutions have to be both home-based care and facility-based care.


About ChinmayaIAS Academy - Current Affairs

Check Also


Recently, the Prime Minister of India held bilateral talks with the visiting Maldives President. The Prime …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Get Free Updates to Crack the Exam!
Subscribe to our Newsletter for free daily updates