June 1 is observed as World Milk Day with the aim to raise awareness about milk and its importance as a global food.
In the last few years, India has become the largest producer of milk in the world with over 150 million tonnes of production and per capita availability of over 300 grams per day.
However, in India food habits over the years are discriminatory in terms of gender. There are two classes in India—those who can’t afford vegetables, fresh fruits and milk and the others who can afford them but discriminate between male and female children.
Furthermore, India is home to the largest number of malnourished children in the world, a report said on Wednesday, advocating that the country needs to frame policies with a focus on reducing health and social inequities.
“About 37 per cent of our under-five children are underweight, 39 per cent are stunted (low height-for-age), 21 per cent are wasted (low weight-for-height) and 8 per cent are severely acutely malnourished,” said the study. While the percentage of stunted children under five reduced from 48% in 2005-06 to 39% in 2015-16, the percentage of children who are wasted increased slightly from 19.8% to 21%, said a 2017 report by Assocham and EY.
"Tackling malnutrition in India is a pressing need and one of the focus areas for uss. Malnutrition is the biggest cause of death of children under the age of five, accounting for nearly 45% of all deaths. Nearly 40% of Indian children are stunted in growth, leading to a life-long impact on cognition and productivity and about 70% of all children below the age of five are anaemic. Tata Trusts aims to reduce stunting by 30% in India’s 100 highest burden districts by 2025," says Dr Rajan Sarkar, Program Director, Nutrition of Tata Trusts.
Furthermore, India has a high prevalence of childhood stunting and maternal and childhood anaemia. More than 70 % of the population suffers from Vitamin D deficiency / insufficiency. On the other hand particularly in children under 5, Vitamin A is in some way responsible for overall development of the child. These can have long-term effects on cognition and overall productivity.
"As of today, approx. 75 Lakh Litre Per Day (LLPD) milk is being fortified and made available to 50 million consumers across India through cooperative and private dairies. The Fortified Milk today is available in Delhi NCR, Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Assam, Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. A total of 410 LLPD (lakh litres per day) of milk is available for fortification in the country with organized sectors, from which milk cooperatives have 220 LLPD of Milk and private dairies have 190 LLPD," Sarkar adds.
Meanwhile, to ensure the milk is properly fortified, the National Dairy Development Board and cooperative dairies across the country have partnered with organisations such as Tata Trusts to create an enabling environment for the fortification process in a hygienic and transparent manner. "These plants have the required certifications and approvals in place to undertake the fortification as per the laws governing the process. The food fortification programme as a whole is as per the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) guidelines," Sarkar adds.
While cost of milk fortification is miniscule, Sarkar says that the demand for fortified staples is the biggest challenge and therefore generating awareness amongst companies and consumers on the merits of fortification becomes a problem. "With the alarming rate of malnutrition and its ill-effects on public health and economy, it is essential to generate awareness and educate about the consumption of fortified food especially in the economically weaker sections of society. It takes time for the communities to fully accept. We recognize the depth and scale of challenges that India faces and acknowledge that it cannot be resolved in insolation. The support and involvement of the government is extremely crucial in order to intensify the scale and impact of our initiatives. The local governments have shown a lot of support and acceptance in these states," he adds.
Article Type: Report Sections: Health Authors: Jayadev Calamur Agencies: DNA webdesk Cities: Mumbai Tags: Assam Assocham Chhattisgarh Delhi Gujarat Haryana Madhya Pradesh National Dairy Development Board Rajasthan Uttar Pradesh world milk day June 1 Web Exclusive Tata Trusts Malnourishment fortification Fri, 1 Jun 2018-12:37pm Date updated: Friday, 1 June 2018 - 12:42pm Article Images:
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