APPI has identified fighting malnutrition in India as one of the strategic areas of work. India is home to 57 million children who are malnourished, more than a third of the world’s 146 million malnourished children. Malnutrition causes stunted physical growth and cognitive development that last a lifetime and is the cause of one third of all child mortality. The economic losses associated with malnutrition are estimated at 3 per cent of India’s GDP annually. Though India has improved its national average rate of stunted growth among children from 48% to 39% in the last eight years, the prevalence continues to be glaringly high in some of the high-burden states. Working to improve the nutritional status of children ties in with APPIs vision of creating a humane society.
Stunting is an internationally accepted indicator to denote the nutritional status of a geography. Recent evidence clearly suggests that stunting takes place in the first two years of a child’s birth. It is irreversible and is associated with impaired cognitive ability and reduced school and work performance. The 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s 2nd birthday offer a unique window of opportunity.
The right nutrition during this 1,000 day window can have a profound impact on a child’s brain development, immune system, ability to grow, learn, and rise out of poverty. It can also shape a society’s long-term health, stability and prosperity.
APPI conceives stunting as a specific problem that can be tackled through a focussed approach and sequenced set of interventions targeted to work around the 1000 day window. These interventions are specifically targeted towards adolescent girls (who would become mothers), pregnant women and infants below 2 years of age. In doing so, APPI will closely work with public systems like the Integrated Child Delivery Services (ICDS) as well as networks of civil society organisations, private sectors, and community actors.
To begin with, APPI will be rolling out a large scale programme to reduce malnutrition in the State of Odisha.