Among the North-east states, Meghalaya is home to most stunted children under five years. This was made known duringa state-level consultation on accelerating progress towards good nutrition for all, inaugurated by additional chief secretary, Y Tshering in Shillong last week, says a report in the Meghalaya Times. Meghalaya has made some improvements in health and nutrition status of women and children, but the progress has been slow. While Assam registered 40.6 per cent of children under this same category, the rates have been shown to be above the national average  of 38.7 per cent. Being stunted means that these children are not fulfilling their potential. Their brains and immune systems are compromised. Defecation and inadequate hand washing were cited as reasons for poor health among children, leading to malnourishment.

Tsering emphasised the importance of focusing on quality care and services and not just the numbers. In this regard, he said, “Holistic, state-level actions are needed to address nutrition in Meghalaya. There is need to look at food habits in rural areas and create awareness on importance of nutritious food, healthy lifestyle, education for women and girls and water, sanitation and hygiene practices. Education plays an important role in shaping the perceptions of children, therefore, this should play a key role in spreading health literacy.”