[Answered] Discuss the relevance of Poshan abhiyaan for India’s health security. How India can tackle its malnutrition problem?

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Significance of Poshan Abhiyaan. Solutions to tackle malnutrition in India.
Conclusion. Way forward.

Malnutrition was the predominant risk factor for death in children younger than 5 in every state of India in 2017, accounting for 68.2% of the total under-5 deaths, translating into about 700, 000 deaths due to malnutrition. It was also the leading risk factor of loss of health among all age groups. According to the findings, if the trends estimated up to 2017 for the indicators in the Poshan Abhiyaan or National Nutrition Mission 2022 continue in India, there would be 8.9% excess prevalence for low birthweight relative to the 2022 targets.

Significance of Poshan Abhiyaan:

  1. Poshan Abhiyaan (National Nutrition Mission) is aimed at improving the nutritional status of Children from 0-6 years, Adolescent Girls, Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers in a time bound manner during the next three years beginning 2017-18.
  2. The Abhiyan aims to achieve convergence with various programmes i.e., Anganwadi Services, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, Janani Suraksha Yojana, National Health Mission, Swachh-Bharat Mission, Public Distribution System, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
  3. It focuses on reducing stunting, under-nutrition and anaemia in women and adolescents through direct cash transfers is a massive step towards eradicating malnutrition.
  4. Cash transfers under the mission provide an additional support to the family income.
  5. The scheme proposes to ensure service delivery by use of more technology, behavioural change through incentives and lists down specific targets to be achieved in a phased manner, thus eradicating malnutrition from the country.
  6. It aims to map all the different schemes contributing towards malnutrition, an exceptionally strong convergence mechanism, ICT based Real-Time Monitoring framework, adding incentives for States/UTs for gathering the objectives, Social Audits, setting-up Nutrition Resource centres, including masses through Jan Andolan for their support on nourishment through different exercises, among others.

Measures to tackle malnutrition in India:

  1. The first and the most important step for reducing malnutrition in India is providing sufficient nutrition to pregnant and lactating mothers. The child then automatically is at much less risk of being malnourished.
  2. The finance ministry and the planning departments, the report points out, can play an overarching role by ensuring such programmes get sufficient budgets, resources and a policy framework.
  3. Appropriate policies can only be designed if proper and timely information and data is collected not just on underweight children but the overweight ones as well.
  4. States need to extending a wide range of essential services and facilities, from healthcare and clean water to social security and basic infrastructure.
  5. The Indian planner unfortunately has still to understand the difference between planning and budgeting. This is where a systemic change is needed in India. In addition to spending budgets, we need to give equal importance to non-monetary issues such as institutions, laws and policies.
  6. The ICDS Anganwadi programme is plagued by massive systemic corruption. Delegating powers to gram panchayats or local elected bodies to clear bills and make payments to the food suppliers would resolve the issue.
  7. Making only rice and wheat available through the subsidised PDS has adversely affected the consumption pattern of poor people. We must put the focus back on millets.
  8. Tribal migrant labourers who constitute a significant proportion of the urban poor are exposed to health risks by their excruciating living and working conditions in the city.  Absence of nutritious food and overcrowded living conditions only heighten the risk.

To address this problem, providing better public healthcare facilities in places with high migrant populations is important.

The vision to ensure attainment of malnutrition free India by 2022 continues through more innovations and pilot programs and has reached the grass root level households. Poshan Abhiyaan has received global recognition for its effort in eradicating the malnutrition. Yet there is much far to go in ending malnutrition issue in India.

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