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Nita Bhandari from Centre for Health Research and Development, Society for Applied Studies, New Delhi is a public health researcher with expertise in community-based research in child health and nutrition with special focus on nutritional intervention trials to reduce childhood morbidity and mortality, nutrition-infection interactions.
Her major contributions include establishing malnutrition as key determinant of severity of childhood diarrhea, largely mediated through zinc deficiency, and improving zinc intakes has major effects on diarrhea and pneumonia. She led the validation of WHO recommendations of exclusive breast feeding for 6 months and showed it is safe even in LBW infants and prevents diarrhea hospitalizations. She was one of the six lead investigators globally in evolving the WHO Child Growth Standards. She led the research that culminated in demonstration of mortality-saving and severe-infection-preventing effect of Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illnesses (IMNCI) introduced in the National Health Mission, Government of India. She was the national coordinator for the entire clinical development program of first Indian rotavirus vaccine (ROTAVAC®). In a path-breaking study, she recently showed that home treatment of severe acute malnutrition is feasible using ready-to-use therapeutic foods, which helped India make a national policy on a contentious issue.
She adds to the small pool of high quality female medical researchers in India. She has consistently published in best international scientific journals and her contributions have found place in Indian and developing country public health programs.
Dr. Bhandari is a Fellow of Indian Academy of Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Medical Sciences and National Academy of Sciences. She serves on several national committees constituted by the Ministry of Health, the Indian Council of Medical Research and the Department of Biotechnology (Government of India).
Dr. Bhandari plays a key role in the main research portfolio of the Centre for Excellence in Intervention Science in Maternal and Child Health, including a now completed large trial on community-initiated kangaroo mother care for low birth weight babies. The main findings of this important trial was published in The Lancet in October 2019.