Monday, 29 May, 2023

Malnutrition taking a heavy toll on poor

Exorbitant prices of daily essentials have dealt a severe double blow to fixed and low-income people. The latest round of price-hike of essentials in ongoing Ramadan has made people of lower income groups even more vulnerable. Food prices have spiked abnormally going beyond their purchasing capacity. For them who struggled to buy food even before prices shot up, rising costs mean falling into food insecurity. The phenomenon has forced them to make difficult choices regarding food consumption. For sometime, we have been listening that the price-hike has impacted poor people’s eating habits. They are eating less. A recent survey conducted by a non-governmental research organization has substantiated that. Yesterday’s lead story of a prominent vernacular daily stated that eating habit of 90 percent families of low income people   changed for the worse.

Although unbelievable, the study revealed that they have reduced intake of meat by 97 percent, while the reduction is 88 percent for fish, 81 percent for oil, 77 percent for egg and even 47 percent for rice. If such situation continues then future looks bleak. It has become difficult for low-income people to consume animal protein and other good quality foods. The outcome will have a long-term impact on people’s health and nutrition. They will inevitably turn sick. They will be unable to work due to lack of energy. Naturally, a question arises. Are we fast heading towards becoming a sick and malnourished nation? It will bring a terrible consequence for the nation. Now, a famine-like situation is prevailing across the country – not for scarcity of food items in the market but for people’s inability to cope with soaring prices. In this situation too, we have to hear that the market is stable and prices have not shot up. Such rhetoric is nothing but a cruel mockery.

Failure to provide necessary food to people and create a balance between income and purchasing power can lead us to much more bad days ahead. It may give rise to social unrest. Time runs out fast. The authorities concerned should do the needful on an urgent basis to reverse the trend. Having purchasing power over essential commodities is a right of the masses. It is time to crackdown on corruption, black market and hoarding throughout the country to save distressed people.