Tag Archives: stunting

Poor Sanitation in India May Afflict Well-Fed Children With Malnutrition

Poor Sanitation in India May Afflict Well-Fed Children With Malnutrition | Source: by Gardiner Harris, New York Times, July 13, 2014.

Excerpts: A long economic boom in India has done little to reduce the vast number of children who are malnourished and stunted, leaving them with mental and physical deficits that will haunt them their entire lives. Now, an emerging body of scientific studies suggest that many of the 162 million children under the age of 5 in the world who are malnourished are suffering less a lack of food than poor sanitation. sanitation-nytimes

Two years ago, Unicef, the World Health Organization and the World Bank released a major report on child malnutrition that focused entirely on a lack of food. Sanitation was not mentioned. Now, Unicef officials and those from other major charitable organizations said in interviews that they believe that poor sanitation may cause more than half of the world’s stunting problem.

“Our realization about the connection between stunting and sanitation is just emerging,” said Sue Coates, chief of water, sanitation and hygiene at Unicef India. “At this point, it is still just an hypothesis, but it is an incredibly exciting and important one because of its potential impact.”

This research has quietly swept through many of the world’s nutrition and donor organizations in part because it resolves a great mystery: Why are Indian children so much more malnourished than their poorer counterparts in sub-Saharan Africa?

Sanitation and nutrition

In the scramble for attention in post-2015 development agenda discussions, WaterAid and the SHARE programme are highlighting the role of WASH in combating malnutrition. “A successful global effort to tackle under-nutrition must include WASH” is the headline in their new briefing note.

Mentioned in the note, and of special interest, is the forthcoming Cochrane review on “Interventions to improve water quality and supply, sanitation and hygiene practices, and their effects on the nutritional status of children” (DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009382).

In the wake of the WaterAid/SHARE briefing note, a new World Bank report on sanitation and stunting [1] is “getting a lot of attention from our nutrition colleagues”, says Eddy Perez of the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) in an email.

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