Food security will reduce maternal mortality: Expert

November 3rd, 2010 - 5:49 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 3 (IANS) National Food Security Act can help bring down malnutrition and maternal mortality rates in the country, Biraj Patnaik, principal adviser to the Supreme Court commissioners on right to food, said Wednesday.

“Anaemia during pregnancy is one of the main reasons for maternal death, because that may cause haemorrhage. Food supplement which can tackle iron deficiency is the way to face this challenge,” Patnaik said.

According to Patnaik, the body mass index (BMI) - a corelative measure of a person’s age, height and weight - of around 40 percent of adult Indians is below average.

“I think the National Food Security Act is one of the most ambitious legislations in India that would ensure people the right to food. However, it doesn’t mention other determinants like water and sanitation, which are also important,” Patnaik said.

“The National Advisory Council is trying to chart out penalties for non-implementation of the act. Like the Right to Information Act, there should be surety of punishment,” he added.

However, activists said food security has to cover nutritional aspects too.

“It’s not just food security that we have to be concerned about but also nutritional security. Why is that in most Indian households the woman is the last to eat and eats mostly leftovers? Through surveys, it has been seen that when fortified food is being supplied, the men get more iron, but not the women,” said Indu, from the White Ribbon Alliance India (WRAI).

“Therefore, awareness about nutritional wellbeing is very important. Literacy is often said to be a barrier, but if advertisements on chips can reach them, then why not this information?” she asked.

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