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Poshan 2.0: Identify And Hospitalize Severely Malnourished Children, Center Tells States

The Ministry for Women and Child Development also asks states to set up Poshan Vatikas and promote Yoga 

Prakash Kumar | Feb 09, 2021

The Centre has asked the States to launch a drive to identify severe acute malnourished (SAM) children and refer them to the hospital or Ayush centre for treatment if required.

Such children should be referred to the hospital or Ayush centre for treatment as per the action plan approved by the respective district nutrition committee (DNC) under the district collector, the Union Ministry for Women and Child Development has said in a recent letter to chief secretaries of the states.

“States shall launch a drive for identification of SAM children for a referral to hospitals if required, and AYUSH centers in accordance with the detailed action plan approved by the district nutrition committee to be finalized in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer,” the ministry said.

The ministry has also asked the States to integrate ‘Ayush Concepts’ for holistic nourishment of children and women into their plan of action and keep up the efforts to set up ‘Poshan Vatikas’ at Anganwadi centers, panchayat areas, school campus and vacant lands in the village and other government premises.

“The Science of AYUSH is a system that builds and promotes health and wellness and can address the requirements of nutrition by tapping into the country's indigenous traditional practices,” the ministry noted in its letter.

The ministry urged the chief secretaries of the states to promote Yoga in households. The department of Ayush will propagate the campaigns of 'Yoga at Home, Yoga with Family' at Anganwadi centres and households to encourage beneficiaries to practice yoga and stay healthy, it added.

As per the guidelines issued by the ministry for implementation of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), states are required to set up ‘Poshan Vatikas’ (kitchen gardens and nutri-gardens) in every village for the benefit of women and children.

“The main objective of introducing the concept of Poshan Vatika is to encourage community members to cultivate local food crops in their backyards,” the ministry underlined. “A nutrition garden ensures an inexpensive, regular and handy supply of fresh fruits and vegetables that are basic to good nutrition. Green vegetables contain vitamins and minerals that protect against micro-nutrient deficiencies and diseases.”

The cultivation of local vegetables, fruits and important herbs and medicinal plants in these areas will be “a critical resource” to fulfill nutritional needs locally and generate economic activity for local cultivators and village industry.

The fruits and vegetables grown in the Poshan Vatika can be used for consumption by the beneficiaries, preparing traditional recipes (regional meals) and for motivating the local community for diet diversity, the ministry added. Guidelines for management and distribution can be formulated at the State level.

While mothers groups can bring community ownership and encourage accountability, the Ayush department can populate the Poshan Vatikas with medicinal plants and herbs as a convergence activity with Agriculture District Officer and Kisan Vikas Kendras (KVKs), the ministry said.

“Poshan Vatikas can meet the important dietary diversity gap that has been repeatedly revealed in different surveys by providing different fruits, nuts, herbs and vegetables round the year, thus helping in introducing healthy eating practices to address malnutrition,” the ministry noted, adding, “These can be retrofitted with backyard poultry and fishery units in regions where these are culturally acceptable.”

Citing other benefits of setting up Poshan Vatikas, the ministry noted that the kitchen gardens may be used as a demonstration activity site for the children to enhance their knowledge about plants and their growth process. They can also be used to demonstrate the agricultural technique to the community members and for delivering nutrition messages to pregnant women, lactating mothers and the wider community.

“Anganwadi Workers shall counsel the beneficiaries to sensitize them on the importance of a nutrition garden, the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables, their importance in healthy and balanced diets and consequences of their deficiencies,” the ministry said, asking the states to develop IEC (information education and communication) material on nutrition gardens and provide them to field functionaries to generate awareness.

District level implementation and monitoring committee, headed by the district collector, will oversee the development of Poshan Vatikas in convergence with ministries of environment and forest MoEF, Panchayati raj institutions and Ayush, the ministry said.