The Global Hunger Index 2019 was published formally in Bangladesh on Monday
Speakers at a programme on Monday underscored the need for concerted efforts from public and private levels to confront nutritional deficiencies in Bangladesh.
The country produces sufficient food but its food security will remain a challenge until it addresses nutritional deficiencies, they said.
The programme was organised at the Cirdap auditorium in Dhaka to publish the Global Hunger Index (GHI) in Bangladesh.
The report was first published on October 17 when it revealed the hunger situation in Bangladesh had been stagnant at a "serious" level for almost 14 years since 2005.
Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque said, "Poverty is our main challenge. We will fail to fight malnutrition if we cannot address it."
He put emphasis on commercialisation of agriculture for the country's further advancement against poverty.
"In spite of many challenges, Bangladesh has been doing better than other South Asian countries in all social indices," he added.
Dr Shah Nawaz, director general of the Bangladesh National Nutrition Council, said, "One-third of our children below five years have been suffering from stunting. Malnutrition is the main reason behind this."
Nutrition activist Dr Rukhsana Haider said climate change aggravates the poverty situation and combined measures by the government and non-government organisations are needed to fight the challenge of malnutrition.
Bangladesh's rank in GHI
Bangladesh's overall hunger and undernutrition situation has gradually improved since 2000, but a closer look at the underlying picture reveals reasons to be worried.
In 2000, Bangladesh suffered an "alarming" level of hunger on the GHI.
In five years, the hunger level shifted from "alarming" to "serious" and has remained unchanged on the latest index.
This, according to the GHI scale, indicates that the overall level of hunger has decreased.
With a score of 25.8, Bangladesh this year was placed 88th on the index, among 117 countries qualified for a global ranking. Its previous score was 30.3 in 2010. A higher score implies worsening hunger situation.
Bangladesh remains ahead of neighbouring India which scored 30.3. Among South Asian nations, Sri Lanka ranked the highest at 66th, with a score of 17.1, while Afghanistan ranked lowest scoring 33.8.
Bhutan and the Maldives were not included, due to a lack of data.
The GHI is a peer-reviewed annual report, jointly published by Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe, two international non-government aid agencies.
The index is designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger at the global, regional and country levels. The aim of GHI is to trigger action to reduce hunger around the world.
The GHI is based on four component indicators – undernourishment, child stunting, child wasting, and child mortality.