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As we are aware that malnutrition raises the likelihood of being unwell, remaining unwell, and finally the dead end. It weakens the immune system, making the body more susceptible to infections and initiating a vicious cycle.

When families encounter significant obstacles such as food price increases, unemployment, limited mobility, and disruptions to health and social services – regardless of whether they are directly affected by the virus, their nutritional intake and health may suffer. Malnutrition encompasses undernutrition (wasting, stunting, and being underweight), a lack of vitamins and minerals, and being overweight or obese. We know that malnutrition has been connected to immune system alterations.

Some COVID-19 response tactics, including physical distancing, school closures, trade restrictions, and countrywide lockdowns, impact food systems by interrupting the production, transportation, and sale of healthy, fresh, and fresh, inexpensive foods, causing millions of households to rely on nutrient-poor alternatives.

Healthcare systems are overburdened, and humanitarian response is disrupted. Especially when the Indian Government announced the lockdown, which resulted in the closure of Anganwadi centers and commercial organizations, it compelled the halting of healthcare outreach initiatives. The mid-day meal program, which functioned as the principal source of extra nourishment for millions of school-aged children in India, was forced to halt due to school closures.

The mass exodus of migrant workers without any food supplies made it worse. Most notably, children who already have Moderate or Severe Acute Malnutrition are now mainly living in their homes without medical attention or proper supplementary nutrition, putting their health in danger.

Malnutrition may aggravate COVID-19’s effects in mothers and children. At the same time, more adolescents are now becoming malnourished due to poor food quality, disruptions in nutrition and other essential services, and the socioeconomic shocks caused by the epidemic.

Early stunting has long-term ramifications not only for individuals but also for national economies. A youngster that is malnourished during the first three years of life has fewer neural connections in his or her brain. This is irreparable harm, and these children are more likely to quit school, and even if they do attend, they are less able to study.

With many experts’ predictions, the third wave is yet to come, which can affect the children who are still not vaccinated. The Government is still struggling with the vaccination of people who are aged 18 years and above. The supply crisis isn’t going to end soon.

In the Global Hunger Index 2020, India was placed 94th out of 107 countries. According to the research, 14% of the Indian population is malnourished. It also revealed that the country has a 37.4 percent stunting rate among children under the age of five and a 17.3 percent wasting rate. The death rate for children under the age of five is 3.7%. With these data, the situation seems horrible. The COVID-19 is already reached rural India, where almost 70% of the Indian population live. This is going to affect these vulnerable children more than ever.

In this view, it is high time for our healthcare programs to recognize that the fight against the pandemic is a long-term one, and we must devise measures to combat it. If we do not, regardless of whether we win or lose the war against COVID 19, we risk losing more children to avoidable causes such as severe acute malnutrition, diarrhea, pneumonia, and other illnesses.

Government can take proactive actions like increasing the size of cash transfer programs, by considering nutritional vulnerabilities as a recipient selection criterion and ensuring that emergency food distribution and safety net programs include vitamin and mineral-fortified foods.

It can closely watch the important community-based nutrition programs through innovative/digital delivery platforms to have better nutrition-food availability to these children.

Also read: SubscriberWrites: The government and `we the people’ have failed in Covid’s second wave

These pieces are being published as they have been received – they have not been edited/fact-checked by ThePrint.