India with a population of 1.21 billion population stand at the second position as the most populous country in the world after China. India comprises almost 13.1 per cent of child population aged 0-6 years. Children of today are tomorrow’s citizens; hence it is very necessary to provide better health care facilities to them. India accounted almost 43 per cent underweight children against 32 percent in Pakistan, 9 percent in South Africa. Nutritional level among the children is the basic element of their overall mental and physical development. Malnutrition among the children reduced significantly over the time, but still the number of malnourished children is very high in the country. Malnutrition and mortality among children are the two faces of a single coin. Mortality among infants and under-5 children is also a major concern. In India the number of under-5 mortality rate and infant mortality rates are 49 and 42, respectively. Thus there is a need, to be more focused on the child health issues. The main objective of this paper is to study the child health condition in terms of nutrition and survival rate. The study is based on the secondary data from various published reports of the government of India.
India, with 1.21 billion of population is the world’s second most populous country after China. An estimated 26 millions of children are born every year. It is alarming that with an absolute increase in population of about 181 million in the population during the census 2001 and 2011, there is a reduction of 5.05 million in the child population aged 0-6 years during the same period. According to 2011 census, the total number of children aged 0-6 years is 158.79 million which is reduced by 3.1 percent compared to the child population in 2001 census. According to the data available the share of children of the age group 0-6 years to the total population is 13.1 percent in 2011.
Children of today are tomorrow’s citizen, thus it is extremely important to ensure good health for children. Child health plays a vital role in the development of a country. The first six years of life constitutes the most crucial span in life. At this stage if life, the foundation are laid for mental, physical and social development. Children are the assets for tomorrow’s productivity. The growth of any country is depending on the availability of healthy human resource. As children represent the future generation, thus makes them healthy is of crucial importance. Healthy children ensure for healthy adult who in turn ensure a sound growth and development of the economy. New-borns particularly infant and under-five children are more vulnerable to malnutrition, mortality and other diseases, which can be easily prevented or treated.
India is listed in the countries where malnutrition and child mortality is alarmingly high. According to the data released by the Office of the Registrar General of India, indicate that although the mortality rate especially infant and under-five mortality rate is declining over the years, yet there are some states where these rates are very high. This shows that instead the progress in health care sector in India, young population especially in the age group 0-6 years continuously lost their lives due to inadequate nutrition and proper care. The mortality rates and nutritional status of the children reflects the threats in child health. Despite various measures and programmes to control the malnutrition and mortality among children the condition remains a cause of serious concern that need to be addressed urgently. The latest survey on children brought out by the ministry of Women and Child Development titled “Rapid Survey on Children - 2013-2014”  shows the deprived condition of children in the country.
The present paper made an attempt to study the child health issues related to the nutrition and survival. Nutrition is the basic element of healthy life. Adequate nutrition is very essential in the early stages of life. Nutrition helps in the growth and development of body. Indian has the largest food supplementation programme in the world. Although country experiences rapid economic growth and easy access to affordable food and food supplementation programmes for children, yet there are nearly half the under-five children are underweight. Another important concern of the paper is child mortality. Despite progress in health sector, India has very high child mortality rates. The child mortality rates reflect the threats in child health. Malnutrition is the major cause of mortality among children.
1 in 4 children of school-going age is out of school in our country – 99 million children in total have dropped out of school (Census 2011)Out of every 100 children, only 32 children finish their school education age-appropriately (District Information System for Education (DISE) 2014-15)Only 2% of the schools offer complete school education from Class 1 to Class 12 (District Information System for Education (DISE) 2014-15)
Child Abuse and Exploitation
There are 10.13 million child labourers between 5-14 years in India (Census 2011)India has 33 million working children between the ages of 5-18 years. In parts of the country, more than half the child population is engaged in labour (Census 2011)Every day, around 150 children go missing in India – kidnapping and abduction is the largest crime against children in our country (National Crime Record Bureau 2016)Over the last 10 years, crimes against children has increased 5 times over (National Crime Record Bureau Data Series). For details and more information, click hereFear of failure in examinations in the second highest cause of suicides in children (Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India ADSI 2014)
Health and Nutrition
19.8 million children below age 6 in India are undernourished (ICDS 2015)Only 9.6% of children between 6-23 months in the country receive an adequate diet (NFHS 4, 2015-16)38% (1 in 3 )of children between 0-5 years are stunted in the country (NFHS 4, 2015-16)21% (1 in 5) of the children in the country suffer from wasting (NFHS 4, 2015-16)36% of children under 5 years of age are underweight in India (NFHS 4, 2015-16)58% of children between 6months – 5 years were found to be anaemic in the country (NFHS 4, 2015-16)Total Immunisation coverage in the country stood at 62% in 2015-16 (NFHS 4, 2015-16)21% of the births in the country were home births (NFHS 4, 2015-16)
Only 21% of mothers (1 in 5) received full antenatal care in the country (NFHS 4, 2015-16)More than 50% of the pregnant women aged 15-49 years were found to be anaemic (NFHS 4, 2015-16)
42% of married women in India were married as children (District Information System for Education (DISE) 3)1 in every 3 child brides in the world is a girl in India (UNICEF)India has more than 45 lakh girls under 15 years of age who are married with children. Out of these, 70% of the girls have 2 children (Census 2011)