India is often distinguished as the most populous democracy in the world, but India occupies a rarefied place when it comes to assessing global hunger, with its sky-high rates of deadly malnutrition and its staggering numbers of undernourished children. The scale of malnutrition in India makes it ground zero in the fight to end child deaths from deadly undernutrition.
Despite its status as an economic powerhouse, deadly malnutrition persists to a bewildering degree in India, often hidden in plain sight. South Asia, in fact, has the greatest concentration of deadly acute malnutrition on the planet, while India alone accounts for 54% of all undernutrition- related child deaths worldwide.
Undernutrition in India is the product of the usual suspects: widespread poverty, endemic hunger, rapid population growth, pockets of weak governance, poor health systems and unreliable national indicators, all of which are compounded by issues of caste, ethnicity, religion and gender. Undernutrition is particularly prevalent in the states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where 20% and 35% of all children, respectively, are affected by severe wasting like marasmus, a type of undernutrition that causes fat, muscle, and other tissue loss.
Action Against Hunger has worked in India since 2011, hoping to help turn the tide and begin saving the millions of lives lost each year across India. Our teams have scaled up our nutrition programs, worked with all levels of government to strengthen India’s health system, developed nutritional care programs centered on community involvement, trained hundreds of health care workers in the detection, prevention, and treatment of severe malnutrition, partnered with local community organizations, and undertaken much needed nutritional surveys to document the extent of undernutrition in India. We’re here for the long haul to help India’s vulnerable thrive.