A total of 2.6 million people in Bangladesh still remain malnourished, according to a seminar on food and nutrition held in the city recently. Despite a fall in malnutrition rates, this remains a matter of concern. It indicates that there are serious shortcomings in the existing nutrition programme of the country.
Poverty alleviation, per capita income, women’s empowerment, food autarky, development in communication systems, all play a direct role in improving the nutrition status of the country. Various government and international initiatives such as administering Vitamin E capsules to infants and adding iodine to salt have improved the nutrition status from the nineties, but that is not enough.
The state of food is obviously directly related to the state of malnutrition among men, women and children. It is claimed that Bangladesh is self-sufficient in food. It is true that no one dies of starvation, but that is no cause for complacence. Just having food for survival is not enough. Proper nutrition is imperative for a nation’s overall development, for the mental and physical health of the people. This can be possible by ensuring adequate nutrition for all.
This is not just the responsibility of the food ministry. Integrated efforts are also needed among the ministries of agriculture, education, primary and mass education, information, finance, planning, food, fisheries, livestock, social welfare, and women and children affairs. Unfortunately, it had not been possible to bring about the required coordination among these ministries.
The second national nutrition plan of the nutrition policy has not been finalised. This is holding up a lot of work. This plan must be passed as soon as possible. And the existing loopholes in the ongoing nutrition plan must be identified and redressed.