No shortage of schemes like Poshan Abhiyaan – still we have a long way to go
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Poshan Abhiyaan is a step towards eradicating all forms of malnutrition in India where even after 70 years of Independence it has about 46.6 million stunted children. The statistics sound poor when a number of schemes directly/indirectly affecting the nutritional status of children (0-6 year's age) and pregnant women and lactating mothers are there in the country. However, just being a year-old scheme, it would be too soon to comment on its success or failure.
The scheme was launched on March 8, 2018, in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu and the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) extended National Nutrition Week from September 1 to September 7 to cover the entire September month to Rashtriya Poshan Maah (RPM) or National Nutrition Month. The MWCD implemented the scheme in 315 districts in the first year and in 235 districts in the second year. The remaining districts in the country will be covered in the third year and so forth.
The flagship programme aims to improve nutritional outcomes for children, adolescents, pregnant women and lactating mothers by leveraging a targeted approach and convergence and an important and complementary strategy for fighting malnutrition is food fortification.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) have notified the standards of fortification for wheat, oil, milk, double fortified salt and rice. It is a major step towards promoting fortified staple foods as a key intervention for improvement in the micronutrient status of the population at a reasonable cost.
A report by the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi reveals that 26 per cent of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) beneficiaries in Karnataka are malnourished and ranks fourth behind Maharashtra, Bihar and Assam and is at par with Uttar Pradesh. Karnataka’s rural areas clearly display the nutrition interventions for women and children under the ICDS that have failed to make an impact on the lives of the people.
ICDS is a well-designed, comprehensive scheme to improve India’s nutrition status and has a reach of over 13 lakh Anganwadi centres across the country to deliver comprehensive nutrition services. Unfortunately, it could not make the desired mark.
Various awareness programmes have been organised in districts covered under this flagship programme during September, the obvious million dollar question arises is - what is keeping the country’s nutritional level devastatingly low? Could it be the linking of schemes with each other or creating a synergy to achieve a common goal or implementation?