The economic downturn caused by Covid-19 is projected to have led to 267,000 excess infant deaths in low and middle-income countries and 99,642 deaths in India in the year 20201. Globally, wasting affected an estimated 45.4 million children under age 5 in 2020. More than half of these children resided in Southern Asia. Given the decline of household income and disruptions in essential nutrition services, the real figures are expected to be 15 percent more than the estimated wasting prevalence2, 3.
Covid-19 lockdown disrupted supply chains in India, possibly causing a decline in consumption expenditure and reduction in diets. Household-level food insecurity or food shortage persisted post the lockdown despite increased PDS support4. Dalberg estimated that 32 million women in India limited their food intake or ran out of food in the week they were surveyed5. The coverage under the essential nutrition interventions was inadequate before the pandemic and their implementation remains crucial6. Improving the provision and utilisation of essential nutrition services during the pandemic would require India to address key demand and supply-side factors. For this, strengthening logistical support, capacity enhancement, performance management, and demand creation become important7. On the demand side, there is a call for higher consistency in delivery and better quantities of THR8.
Optimal breastfeeding is an important pathway to ensure child survival. Given its importance, WHO has developed guidance for health systems and the public to safely continue breastfeeding even with Covid 9. The World Breastfeeding Week, an annual celebration to promote breastfeeding was observed from August 1 to August 7.10 In the Indian context, accessibility to public spaces for breastfeeding, marketing of infant milk substitutes and maternity protection for the informal sector and marketing of infant milk substitutes were some issues that were highlighted 11, 12.
To understand the state of nutrition and food security in India, more accurate information is required but there are data gaps and a reduction in monitoring coverage during the pandemic. The monitoring page of this website showcases the trend and current status of continuity of maternal health and child nutrition-related services for each Indian state. The site also showcases articles estimating the impact of the pandemic on child nutrition and health. Our resources page also includes a chronological map of nutrition-related policy response by state and nationally.
PoshanCOVID19 initiative aims to aid policy and planning by maintaining a repository of information on child nutrition and maternal health and related topics in the context of COVID-19. The monitoring data is presented in an easy-to-access and interpret format to enable evidence-based decisions.
- Shapira, G., de Walque, D., & Friedman, J. (2021). How many infants may have died in low-income and middle-income countries in 2020 due to the economic contraction accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic? Mortality projections based on forecasted declines in economic growth. BMJ open, 11(9), e050551.
- FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO. 2021. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021. Transforming food systems for food security, improved nutrition and affordable healthy diets for all. Rome, FAO. https://doi.org/10.4060/cb4474en.
- UN. (2021). Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021. United Nations.
- World Bank, IDinsight and Development Data Lab. (2021). Economic Effects of Covid-19: Rapid Surveys of Rural households in India.
- Dalberg. (2021). Impact of Covid-19 on women in low-income households in India. Dalberg.
- Ambast, S., Kundu , P., & Shivani Sonawane. (n.d.). Impact of COVID-19 on Child Nutrition in India: What are the Budgetary Implications?
- Nguyen, P. H., Kachwaha, S., Pant, A., Tran, L. M., Walia, M., Ghosh, S., … & Avula, R. (2021). COVID-19 Disrupted Provision and Utilization of Health and Nutrition Services in Uttar Pradesh, India: Insights from Service Providers, Household Phone Surveys, and Administrative Data. The Journal of Nutrition.
- Nair, D., Gupta, A., Stroming, S., Raj, R., Thompson, W.M., Shukla, K., Nag, D. (2021). Improving Implementation of the Take Home Ration Programme Under ICDS: Findings from Rajasthan and Jharkhand. Project Report. New Delhi: IDinsight.
- WHO. (2020). Frequently Asked Questions. Breastfeeding and COVID-19 For health care workers. World Health Organisation.
- Krishna , P. (2021.). World Breastfeeding Week 2021: Significance, benefits and all you need to know. Hindustan Times.
- Ravindranath, D. (2021). This World Breastfeeding Week, India Needs to Ask Why Its Maternity Benefit Laws Fall Short. The Wire.
- Kinhal, D. (2018). To Increase Rate of Breastfeeding in India, Need for Government to Step up Support. The Wire.