An Indian recipe to quell micronutrient malnutrition
Both Global Hunger Index 2021 and National Family Health Survey-5 highlight the glaring issue of malnutrition among the Indian population. Food fortification could be a proven cost-effective solution.
The rice program and anemia
- Targeted Public Distribution program: Pilot projects on the distribution of fortified rice have been taken up in selected States. Rice and wheat are fortified with iron, folic acid & vitamin B12.
- Scaling up of the distribution of fortified rice: The success of the program has prompted the central government to scale it up through social safety nets such as the PDS, ICDS, and PM-POSHAN.
- Results in line with Global Programmes: Experiences from the different States tally with the results of global programs that use fortified food as a cost-effective strategy.
Noon meal scheme in Gujarat
- A Study on Midday Meal Scheme: In Gujarat, a study on fortified rice intervention for schoolchildren, has resulted in increased hemoglobin & 10% reduction in anemia prevalence.
- Iron deficiency anemia: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is responsible for a loss of 47 million DALYs (years of life lost due to premature mortality and years lived with disability).
- WHO meta-analysis: In India, the cost of one DALY lost due to iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is approximately Rs30,000, while the cost of averting an IDA-related DALY is only Rs1,545, resulting in a cost-benefit ratio of 1:18.