Nutrition should become a priority issue both at the national- and State -levels and for this there must a National Nutrition Security Act, said M.S. Bamji, vice-president, Indian National Science Academy (INSA), here on Tuesday.
Participating in an interaction with newspersons on recommendations of the nutrition symposium of the INSA here, Dr. Bamji said nutrition security was the burning issue of the country. Unfortunately, it had not been given the proper recognition.
Malnutrition, she said, was preventing the development of the country as nutrition was an important parameter for judging the development of a country. Without nutrition neither communicable nor non-communicable diseases could be prevented.
Stressing the need for creating awareness of nutrition literacy among all sections of society, Dr.Bamji said the thrust should be on nutrition security and not on food security as nutrition security went beyond food security.
The Food Security Act (FSA) without other components of environment, safe drinking water and health care might not impact nutrition. Besides the FSA was unlikely to improve the nutrition status of people above the poverty line as there was under-nourishment among them too.
There should be convergence between programmes run by various departments/ministries. All planning and execution should be done with community participation and involvement of trained nutrition leaders from the community. There should be more scientific dialogue and interaction between nutrition scientists and scientists belonging to agriculture, medicine, public health, basic sciences and social scientists. There should be a mechanism for nutrition monitoring and surveillance. At present the mechanism was functioning in only nine States and it should be extended to all states.
Dr. Bamji also suggested strengthening of the public distribution system and the basket of commodities should include millets, pulses and oils.
Double fortified salt (iron and iodine) should replace iodised salt to cure iodine and iron deficiency, she added.
M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman, MSSRF, said nutrition should be looked in totality as it played an important role right from birth to death. An awareness of nutrition should be created at local levels and sensitise the local people. At present low-cost sustainable local level solutions were available to solve the nutrition problem of that area. Those should be adopted.
A coalition of government departments and NGOs was formed for nutritionally secure India and the coalition discussed the recommendations of the symposium.
The Foundation had written to the Prime Minister appealing for initiatives for sustainable nutrition security in the country, he added.