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Malnutrition a matter of national shame: PM

Levels of under-nutrition in the country were "unacceptably high" despite impressive GDP growth, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tuesday and added that the problem of malnutrition was a "national shame".

Addressing a gathering here at the release of a malnutrition report 'HUNGaMA', the prime minister said: "The results of this survey are both worrying and encouraging."

"As I have said earlier and I repeat that the problem of malnutrition is a matter of national shame. Despite impressive growth in our GDP, the level of under-nutrition in the country is unacceptably high. We have also not succeeded in reducing this rate fast enough," he said.

He complimented the Citizen's Alliance against Malnutrition, Nandi Foundation, Mahindra & Mahindra and other partners and supporters for carrying out the survey.

"I understand that the surveyors have reached more than 73,000 households in 112 districts across nine states. To measure more than one lakh children and talk to 74,000 mothers is indeed an extraordinary accomplishment."

"The survey reports high levels of malnutrition, but it also indicates that one child in five has reached an acceptable healthy weight during the last seven years in 100 focus districts. However, what concerns me is that 42 percent of our children are still underweight. This is an unacceptably high occurrence," he said.

Underlining that the health of country's economy and society lies in the health of its children, Manmohan Singh said: "There are nearly 16 crore children in the country below the age of six years. In the years to come, these children will join our work force as scientists, farmers, teachers, data operators, artisans, service providers. Several of them will become social workers like many of you in this hall."

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