India aims to end malnutrition by 2015: minister

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India, home to millions of underfed children despite its flourishing economy, will have eradicated malnutrion by 2015, the country’s health minister said on Monday.

A government survey released this year found 46 percent of children under the age of three years were undernourished.

“It is my opinion, that by 2015, malnourishment in India will be a thing of the past,” Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss told Reuters, without elaborating how it would be achieved.

Speaking earlier at the launch of a government program to reduce anemia in children, Ramadoss slammed India’s record of providing healthcare to its women and children.

“On one side, we have healthy economic growth of 9.2 percent and are aiming for 10 percent next year and, on the other side, we have statistics which are among the worst in the world.”

The National Family Health Survey found that the percentage of women and children in India who were anemic had increased to 56 percent and 79 percent respectively since the late 1990s.

“This really is a cause of concern for the government,” Ramadoss said.

He said the government, among a package of new measures, would intensify deworming among children and provide them with iron tablets to prevent anemia as well as increase the number of health workers in rural areas to detect and help malnourished infants.

“Sometimes at international forums, we feel ashamed that India has these parameters.”