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AI deployed to combat India's malnutrition
By Kritika Singh  |  Nov 17, 2022
AI deployed to combat India's malnutrition
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Economic growth has helped to cut poverty in India in recent decades, but malnutrition and undernourishment are still major stumbling blocks toward this goal, both further exacerbated by COVID-19. The country now seeks progress in this fight via use of AI and its plentiful data.

KOLKATA, INDIA - About a month ago, my house help, who is a 20-something nursing mother of four, took a week-long leave from work. For ease of visual depiction, I will briefly try describing her personality and appearance. She often seems to be somber and lost in her thoughts. She is brilliant in her work and performs all her chores with the utmost effort and sincerity. However, she has a habit of forgetting things, and can even forget simple things within five minutes. In terms of appearance, I would simply say that she is emaciated.

About a month ago, after she had taken a week-long leave and returned to work, I could not help but ask her the reason for her sudden leave. She mentioned that she had extreme body aches, was unable to produce milk for her child, and felt weak all the time. So, I got a physical check-up done for her and found out something that is quite common in India, especially among women and children. Something that, according to the World Bank, is another pandemic striking India.

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), one-fourth of Indian women who are of reproductive age are undernourished. Women who are undernourished will always deliver an undernourished child, perpetuating an intergenerational cycle of undernutrition. This cycle can be further prolonged when the interval between bearing two children is too short, which is the case for my house help. The mother's insufficient levels of nutrition both before conception and during the first trimester is a major contributor to fetal stunting.

A triad against child nutrition

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