Sickly Truth: Over half of India's women are anemic, malnourished

Stella Paul
Posted October 27, 2011 from India
Women in India: First to Cook, Last to eat
Women in India: First to Cook, Last to eat
Women in India: First to Cook, Last to eat (1/1)

This is something no Indian would feel proud of: over a half of the nation’s women suffer from anemia, particularly those belonging to the marginalized communities. The India Human Development Report 2011, made public this week has revealed this damning fact.

The "India Human Development Report 2011", prepared by the Institute of Applied Manpower research, a Planning Commission body, says there is an increasing trend of anemia among women of tribal, Muslim and Dalit communities. Ironically, India is one of the few countries to have a robust National Rural Health Mission in place. The nation's.health budget is currently $5.9 million.

Now, anemia isn’t the only sickness Indian women suffering from. An alarmingly high number of women also have acute malnutrition – having BMI less than 18.5. Here again the number of women suffering from malnutrition is greater than that of women form other communities. In two states - Bihar (eastern India) and Orissa (central India) are over 50 pc women of from marginalized communities are malnourished.

According to the WHO, if 40% or more of the population has a BMI less than 18.5, it is regarded as a state of famine. “By WHO’s standards, India is in a state of famine,” reads the report. ………………………………

Eight years ago, a friend of mine –pregnant with her 2nd child - died. Her family had a herd of cows and enough land to grow their own food. But my friend died of malnourishment. I still remember her stick-like hands and legs. There were food, but the distribution system was wrong. This report today made me feel her death all over again. Things are still just as flawed. If she had lived, my friend would still be as sick as she was then.

Comments 15

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ruthibelle
Oct 27, 2011
Oct 27, 2011

Wow, Stella, the more I hear about your life experiences, the more respect I have for the stance you are taking and the work you are doing to help bring these issues to the forefront.

These are saddening statistics, and in the case of your friend, it is a painful reminder of just how much more work needs to be done.

Be brave, keep strong and my condolences, (coupled with sincere admiration and respect), Ruthibelle.

Stella Paul
Oct 27, 2011
Oct 27, 2011

Dear Ruth

There are so many beautiful facts about India too. But along with the beauty, we need to take note of the beast as well, otherwise it would destroy the beauty completely. The report I cited here has been reported well within India, but I feel we also need to discuss such issues on global platform such as WP, because discrimination of women on food intake is a global trend. Its really important to talk such issues so loudly that people start to feel angry and ashamed and stop the discrimination.

I am happy to have friends like you here. Looking forward to many many discussions like this in coming days.

ruthibelle
Oct 28, 2011
Oct 28, 2011

Same here madam :)

jmadhur
Oct 27, 2011
Oct 27, 2011

In Suriname also we have huge number of women suffering form anemia, caused by nutritional deficiency. As a medical practitioner, it is painful for me to advise women to increase their food intake because often I know they are not going to decide upon that, someone else will. But it is shocking to see that the situation is so bad in India which is such a big economy. I hope the government will take this report seriously. Thanks for sharing this!

Stella Paul
Oct 27, 2011
Oct 27, 2011

I can understand the difficulties you face. If I were you, I would feel frustrated in treating malnourished women who probably have enough food at home, but little for themselves. But I think they need doctors like you who can look through their situation too. Thank you so much for reading this!

gabimucatta
Oct 28, 2011
Oct 28, 2011

This is sad and unpleasant to talk about. But I thank you for bringing this up. Who would have known even India had such situation?

Stella Paul
Oct 28, 2011
Oct 28, 2011

Yes, to many of us also it was a shock. We never expected to see the country scoring so badly in women's health. But it only strengthens my own will to speak on such issues. Thanks for reading and sharing the concern!

Olanike
Oct 28, 2011
Oct 28, 2011

It is quite shocking that in this age and time people could individually own or have access to so much, yet starve themselves of the best of what they have. This high level of lack of awareness needs to be tackled, and I am sure you are up to the task when it comes to contributing your own lot to reversing this situation. Stella, I was just wondering if you've heard about the Miracle Tree, i.e. the Moringa Oleifera plant. It is an indigenous plant found across different continents. I learnt that it has been grown and used in India for ages; specifically for its highly rich medicinal and food value. The plant is truly a miracle plant, which our organization is currently propagating; in collaboration with one of our local partner organizations. You could Google it if you haven't heard about it. It is useful in terms of it's food and medicinal values. It is widely acclaimed and proven that it can cure anemia as it's seed powder is known to have blood building and cleansing potency. It is also very potent in tackling malnutrition. Much so too, it is invaluable for controlling some environmental degradation problems. In Nigeria, it is now very popular and it's use and acceptability has continued to spread by the day. It is even now named among our raw materials.May be you could preach the gospel of the Miracle Tree to ameliorate the situation. Knowledge is Power! Thank you for sharing.

Olanike Olugboji

Stella Paul
Oct 28, 2011
Oct 28, 2011

Dear Olanike This is a wonderful, wonderful comment! I grew up in a community that first runs to mother nature for cure, before calling on a doctor. My own body reacts better to natural medicine. And last month, I finally decided to talk about it in a more organized way and share the traditional knowledge. So I started a blog on herbs, medicinal plants and edible flowers

http://whisperinggreens.blogspot.com/

Its still in the beginning stage, but your comment just gave me a lot of new ideas -like addressing women readers on specific problems like anemia. Thanks honey!

I know Miracle Tree. In India it goes by different names, but in my community we call it Sajina (There is a tree right next to my apt) and I simply RELISH it! But I knew that its good for Diabetes. The cure for anemia is new to me and so once again you get a hug from me.

WP is a wonderful forum and I am happy that I can share so many things here, including knowledge of traditional medicine! Love

Usha K.C.
Oct 28, 2011
Oct 28, 2011

Picture and it's caption speak alot about the women not only in India but it represents Nepal too. You always raise very important issue thank you for sharing this dear sister. so much love

Stella Paul
Oct 28, 2011
Oct 28, 2011

Dear Sister

In a way, its good because we can now raise voice against this problem across the boundaries. We can in future plan events and work together on this issue.

Thank you so much!

Tipo Mai
Oct 29, 2011
Oct 29, 2011

I read this first from my yahoo as I am subscribed to your posts. The end got me a little depressed to see that nothing has hanged except for the realisation that nothing has changed. I have hope however that with the realisation that nothing has actually changed your most able self will take this up and the next time we hear from you there will be changes to the culture and conduct of the Indian government in this area.

Stella Paul
Oct 29, 2011
Oct 29, 2011

I too hope to be a messenger of happy news someday. And until then, hope to be a good messenger who doesn't hide no bad ones. Either way, there is lots of work to do, for sure! Love you for being there, listening, talking back!!!

Paulina Nayra
Oct 31, 2011
Oct 31, 2011

This is very sad Stella. Knowing that India has made huge advances economically, neglecting the nutritional needs of the women and mothers is a big sin. Your story made me look at myself in the mirror and ask how are Filipino women in this aspect. Will check.

Stella Paul
Oct 31, 2011
Oct 31, 2011

Dear Pauline

I am very happy to see your message; it hints of some positive action. I know you are someone who can take this issue in a strong way. Please share with me what you find. I will hope that women in Philippines are in better health.