[Answered] Even after 75 years of independence, India is afflicted by public health issues such as child malnutrition. Discuss direct nutrition interventions that can be helpful in curtailing this menace.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain some direct nutrition interventions that can be helpful in curtailing child malnutrition.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Even after seven decades of independence, India is afflicted by public health issues such as child malnutrition (35.5% stunted, 67.1% anaemic) attributing to 68.2% of under-five child mortality. Poor nutrition not only adversely impacts health and survival but also leads to diminished learning capacity, and poor school performance. And in adulthood, it means reduced earnings and increased risks of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

Direct nutrition interventions:

  • Creating awareness on exclusive breastfeeding (EBF), promoting the technique of appropriate holding, latching and manually emptying the breast are crucial for the optimal transfer of breast milk to a baby.
  • A maternal nutrition policy should be formulated.
  • Creating awareness at the right time with the right tools and techniques regarding special care in the first 1,000 days deserves very high priority. For this, invest finances and energy to give a major boost to POSHAN 2.0.
  • There is a pressing need to revisit the POSHAN 2.0 and remove any flaws in its implementation.
  • There is also a need to explore whether there is an alternative way to distribute the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) supplied supplementary nutrition such as Take- Home Ration packets through the Public Distribution (PDS).
  • Free the anganwadi workers of the ICDS to undertake timely counselling on appropriate maternal and child feeding practices.
  • We need to systematically develop and test a new system that would combine the human resource of ICDS and health from village to the district and State levels. This would address the mismatch that exists on focussing on delivery of services in the first 1000 days of life for preventing child undernutrition.
  • Moreover, mass media or TV shows could organise discourses on care in the first 1,000 days to reach mothers outside the public health system.

There is a greater need now to increase investment in women and children’s health and nutrition to ensure their sustainable development and improved quality of life. For this, there is a need for increased financial commitment. The country’s response to malnutrition burden should be practical and innovative.

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