Anganwadi workers conducting a Prabhat Pheri in Gopalganj, Bihar, as part of the Poshan Pakhwada to spread awareness about nutrition
Anganwadi workers conducting a Prabhat Pheri in Gopalganj, Bihar, as part of the Poshan Pakhwada to spread awareness about nutrition Twitter

Gram Panchayats To Discuss Nutrition Aspects, Its Implementation In Villages, Weigh Children On April 14

All the gram panchayats are to also weigh the children in their villages and display the weights in the Anganwadi centres on April 14.

Outlook Web Bureau | Mar 12, 2019

As part of the Poshan Abhiyan action plan, gram panchayats across the country are to hold meetings on April 14 (Ambedkar Jayanti) every year to discuss the benefits of nutrition, implementation in their respective villages, along with health and sanitation issues.

All the gram panchayats are also to weigh the children in their villages and display the weights in the Anganwadi centres.

The central government will also release a Nutrition Report every year after a detailed survey.

The government has also decided that instead of blindly adopting the nutritional practices of other countries, the best practices of states across the country which are successful in reducing stunting, anaemia and malnutrition will be studied and the successful models would be adopted at the national level.

Special focus will also be given to the deprived sections of society, and for this, the district collectors would hold a detailed survey of people outside the Anganwadi system.

The roadmap was decided by the Executive Committee, the apex body for all nutrition related activities under the POSHAN Abhiyaan, headed by Rakesh Srivastava, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development.

As part of the celebrations to mark Poshan Maah or Nutrition Month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with health and Anganwadi workers in September last year.

In his message, Prime Minister Modi told the Anganwadi workers that they are playing the role of nation builders.

“Nothing can stop a nation from progressing if citizens get good, nutrient-filled meal. The first thousand days of a new born are very important. The diet during this period ensures his/her growth,” the Prime Minister said.

“A strong building can never be built on a weak base. Similarly, a nation cannot progress if its children are weak and prone to diseases,” he emphasised.

Poshan Maah was celebrated across the country in September 2018. Its aim was to reach every household in the country with the message of the importance of optimum nutrition.

The fortnight-long Poshan Pakhwada is being celebrated across the country from March 8-22, 2019.

These efforts are set to take forward the objectives of Poshan Abhiyaan (National Nutrition Mission).

Under Poshan Abhiyaan, the government has fixed targets to reduce stunting, anaemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and low birth weight by 2 per cent, 2 per cent, 3 per cent and 2 per cent per annum, respectively.

For financial year 2017-18, 315 districts were identified in the descending order of prevalence of stunting. Video conferencing with these districts for orientation was also held and a national seminar held to take forward the mission.

Poshan Abhiyaan, which was launched by the Prime Minister in Jhunjhunu on March 8, 2018 has been set up with a three year budget of Rs.9,046.17 crore, commencing from 2017-18. All States and Union Territories are being targeted in a phased manner.

The Executive Committee, besides working in convergence mode with related Ministries to take forward the Poshan Abhiyaan, also provides key policy directions.

The Committee also works towards integration of the nutrition components of various schemes, and ICDS-CAS (a specially designed software to help in strengthening service delivery and improving nutrition outcomes through Effective monitoring and Timely interventions in Poshan Abhiyaan).

The Executive Committee also reviews the outcomes and suggests mid-course corrections that may be required in the policy design.

It also tracks progress in key outcomes with an analysis of those states and UTs that are lagging and provides supportive action.

It monitors and reviews implementation of all nutrition related components across the various Ministries. It also prescribes or calls for periodical reports/returns on any nutrition related component from the related Ministries and States/UTs.

It also does a periodical review of the nutritional status of States/UTs and provides policy directions, and also ensures prompt local interventions wherever needed.

Some of the key Nutrition strategies and interventions are supplementary nutrition, IYCF (Infant and Young Child Feeding), immunisation, food fortification, adolescent nutrition, dietary diversification and maternal health and nutrition among others. Behaviour change communication is a key component of Poshan Abhiyaan for converting it into a Jan Andolan or mass movement.

Dr. R C Panda, Member of the Board of Coalition food and Nutrition Security, is an expert member of the Committee. District Collectors/their representatives from 9 districts (viz. Bahraich, Shravasti, Balrampur, Pashchimi, Singhbhum, Siddharthnagar, Gonda, Sitapur, Koppal, Yadgir) with high prevalence of child stunting have been made members of the Executive Committee for assessing ground level situation.

A National Council on India’s nutritional challenges under the chairmanship of Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, has been set up under the Poshan Abhiyaan. The Council is tasked to submit a report to the Prime Minister every 6 months. Secretary WCD is Member convenor of the National Council.