The Ministry for Women and Child Development inaugurated Poshan 2.0 and urged all Aspirational Districts to establish a Poshan Vatika (nutrition garden) during the Nutrition Month (Poshan Mah) from 1st September.
- A month-long celebration of the POSHAN Abhiyan mission places special attention on Severe Acute Malnourished (SAM) children.
Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani on Tuesday urged all aspirational districts of the country to make a commitment to establish a Poshan Vatika (nutrition garden) during the nutrition month starting from September 1 for the protection of Severe Actual Malnourished (SAM) children.
While inaugurating Poshan 2.0, National Conference, Irani said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants the empowerment of women in all fields and urged states to take up Nutrition Month, starting from September 1.
Addressing the press conference, Irani said, “According to a 2010 World Bank report, India suffered an economic loss of Rs 24,000 crore due to lack of toilets. According to the study of the year 2018, the GDP suffered a decline of four per cent due to malnutrition, but since 2018, even in the midst of the Covid-19 epidemic, a mass movement is going on against malnutrition. Carrying out 16 crore activities with public cooperation… All aspirational districts of the country should be committed to establishing a ‘Poshan Vatika’ (nutrition garden) during the nutrition month.
“Many have done tremendous work in identifying Severe Actual Malnourished (SAM) children, but only identifying is not enough. They need protection. And only our society can help in that. The number of such children in the country was earlier 80 lakh, which has now come down to 10 lakh. It reflects the honesty of working towards this issue. However, now the states can tell us about the exact number of such children, and how it has been reduced,” she added.
“The ministry will also organise awareness programmes to emphasise the importance of early breastfeeding, the need for good nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, and measures to reduce anaemia in young women and children,” she added further.
In 2008, when distinguished international economists including many Nobel laureates were asked by the Copenhagen Center to build consensus on the most important development agenda in which policymakers and philanthropists should invest, ‘battling malnutrition’ emerged as the top priority. It took time for this to sink in our country. For generations, malnutrition and undernutrition remained an all-pervasive but largely invisible issue in India and it didn’t receive the attention it deserved.
In fact, it was not until 2016 that a large-scale nationwide survey was conducted to understand the nuances of the nutrition status of the population. Over half of our children under five years were found to be either stunted (too short for their age) or wasted (too thin for their age) or both, reckoned this Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey, released in 2019. The results were alarming for what it meant for the future of our children, but they were broadly in sync with other independent estimates on malnutrition’s prevalence. Malnutrition adversely affects the physical and mental growth of the child and is the single most important risk for acquiring other diseases. Research also shows malnourished children are less likely to go to school and more likely to drop out. This meant half of our children were silently falling behind, and no development can be truly meaningful without ensuring that our children and mothers are better fed and healthy. Addressing this was at the heart of Poshan Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018.
Poshan Abhiyan, which vowed to make India free of malnutrition by 2022, repositioned nutrition as central to development and emphasised its multi-factorial and multi-sectoral nature. First, the movement built in its approach that, on top of direct interventions, nutrition can be improved in many ways, including better sanitation that addresses intestinal diseases and allows people to absorb more nutrients; increasing dietary diversity; vaccinating children against diseases; counselling more women to breastfeed babies for longer, which in turn improves immunity. Second, by involving many ministries and departments outside the nodal ones, along with bringing on board other stakeholders including communities, Poshan Abhiyan helped to build a comprehensive nutrition response, never seen before in this country’s history.
- It is an umbrella scheme covering the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) (Anganwadi Services, Poshan Abhiyan, Scheme For Adolescent Girls, National Creche Scheme).
- It was announced in Union Budget 2021-22 by merging supplementary nutrition programmes and the POSHAN Abhiyaan.
- It was launched to strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach and outcome, with renewed focus on developing practices that nurture health, wellness and immunity to disease and malnutrition in the country.
- Poshan Maah:
- Month of September is celebrated as POSHAN Maah since 2018 to improve nutritional outcomes for children, adolescent girls, pregnant women, and lactating mothers.
- It includes a month-long activities focussed on antenatal care, optimal breastfeeding, Anaemia, growth monitoring, girls education, diet, right age of marriage, hygiene and sanitation and eating healthy (Food Fortification).
- The activities focus on Social and Behavioural Change Communication (SBCC) and are based on Jan Andolan Guidelines.
- SBCC is the strategic use of communication approaches to promote changes in knowledge, attitudes, norms, beliefs and behaviours.
- Poshan Vatika:
- It’s main objective is to ensure supply of nutrition through organically home grown vegetables and fruits simultaneously ensuring that the soil must also remain healthy.
- Plantation drives for Poshan Vatikas would be taken up by all the stakeholders in the space available at anganwadis, school premises and gram panchayats.
- POSHAN Abhiyaan:
- Also called National Nutrition Mission, was launched by the government on the occasion of the International Women’s Day on 8th March, 2018.
- The Abhiyaan targets to reduce Stunting, undernutrition, Anemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and reduce low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively.
- It also targets to bring down stunting among children in the age group 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by 2022.
- Scenario of Malnutrition in India:
- According to a 2010 World Bank report, India suffered an economic loss of Rs 24,000 crore due to lack of toilets. And that the health impact on the economy was 38 million dollars.
- According to an Assocham study of the year 2018, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) suffered a decline of 4% due to malnutrition.
- The report also found that children suffering from malnutrition after growing up earn 20% less than those who have had healthy childhoods.
- The number of SAM children in the country was earlier 80 lakh, which has now come down to 10 lakh.
- Related Government Initiatives:
- Anemia Mukt Bharat Abhiyan
- Mid-day Meal (MDM) scheme
- The National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013
- Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)
- It refers to deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. The term malnutrition addresses 3 broad groups of conditions:
- Undernutrition: It includes wasting (low weight-for-height), stunting (low height-for-age) and underweight (low weight-for-age).
- Micronutrient-related: It includes micronutrient deficiencies (a lack of important vitamins and minerals) or micronutrient excess;
- Overweight: Obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers).
- The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 2: Zero hunger) aims to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, making sure all people – especially children – have access to sufficient and nutritious food all year round.