‘Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’

Dr Chandrakant Sambhaji Pandav
Contd from previous issue
With Phase-2, the Government plans to cover all aspirational and high burden districts for stunting (total 291 districts) by March 2023 and in Phase-3 cover all remaining districts by Mar-24. NITI Aayog has been tasked with conducting concurrent evaluation of fortified rice distribution across the country, along with premier institutions such as NIN and ICMR, to assess the medical as well as nutritional efficacy of fortified rice distribution.
As per the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) standards for fortified rice, micronutrients added to rice provide 30% - 50% of recommended dietary intakes (RDI) of nutrients. It is important to note that, the balance gap in nutrients is expected to be addressed by diets consumed at home, hence all claims regarding adverse effects of fortified rice consumption are premature and only speculative. It must be understood that fortified rice distribution aims to complement and not replace the existing dietary patterns and strategies. Rice fortification is a proven solution to addressing the urgent concern of micronutrient malnutrition. The focus on strengthening other public health measures such as improving water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), deworming, biofortification etc must continue to be addressed through the respective Ministry initiatives and regularly monitored.
With the advent of science and technology, evidence and policy, over the past decade, our country has been able to develop a robust ecosystem for fortified rice, while addressing demand and supply-side challenges, standards, quality. Efforts are ongoing to continuously address consumer awareness so as to change and sustain behaviours.
I believe that, as put forward by nutrition scientist – GH Beaton, “in the field of nutrition, as in politics, the task is to do what is possible without forgetting what is necessary”. It must be understood that prevention is always better than cure and “the best should not be the enemy of good”. The public health dictum of “good for many, rather than best for few” holds the key.
About the author:
Padma Shree Awardee 2021, Dr. Chandrakant Sambhaji Pandav, MBBS, MD, MSc., FAMS, FIAPH, FIAPSM, is former Professor & Head of the Department – Centre for Community Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), New Delhi.Popularly known as the “Iodine Man of India” for his relentless efforts and unwavering commitment towards bringing to light the dire consequences of Iodine Deficiency on health and well-bring.
Dr. Pandav completed his MBBS and later MD in Community Medicine from AIIMS, New Delhi and M.Sc from McMaster University Hamilton, Canada with specialization in Health Economics, Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Dr. Pandav is also an alumnus of the Department of Human Nutrition, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London (UK). Presently, he is a Member of National Council on India Nutrition Challenges under Poshan Abhiyan which is chaired by Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog, President of Association of Indian Coalition of Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD), Regional Coordinator for Iodine Global Network (IGN) South Asia and Chairman of Coalition of Food and Nutrition Security, India (2018-19). He has authored more than 650 research papers in national and international journals and published more than 100 books and reports.
1Total children age 6-23 months receiving an adequate diet : 11.3% (National Family Health Survey- 5)
2 National Family Health Survey-4; Detailed report