POSHAN 2.0 and tackling malnutrition in India

Synopsis– What is POSHAN 2.0 and how it is going to help tackle malnutrition in India.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the burden of malnutrition, especially among the most vulnerable and economically disadvantaged families.
  • The pandemic and the ensuing lockdown have put nearly 115 million children in danger of malnutrition as incomes, food consumption and essential services all come under pressure.
  • Thus, to solve India’s nutrition crisis, an evidence-based, integrated, and outcome-focused approach is urgently required.

What is malnutrition?

Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses, or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and/or nutrients. The term malnutrition addresses three broad groups of conditions:

  • Under-nutrition: This includes wasting (low weight-for-height), stunting (low height-for-age) and underweight (low weight-for-age);
  • Micronutrient-related malnutrition: This includes micronutrient deficiencies (a lack of important vitamins and minerals) or micronutrient excess; and
  • Overweight, obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers).
About POSHAN & POSHAN 2.0 scheme

POSHAN scheme – Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment

  • The government of India had launched the POSHAN Abhiyaan in 2018 to ensure a Malnutrition Free India by 2022.
  • The scheme, by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, aims to reduce stunting, undernutrition, anaemia and reduced low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively.

To improve nutritional outcome- POSHAN 2.0 announced in 2021 Budget.

  • New guidelines of POSHAN 2.0-
    • POSHAN scheme focuses on the 1,000 days between a mother’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday.
    • Prioritizing women and girls, and addressing their nutritional deficiencies through fortification and provision of take-home rations.
    • The introduction of community-based programmes for tackling severe acute malnutrition.
    • The guidelines now place accountability at the district level with nutrition indicators included in the KPIs (key performance indicators) of DN/DC.
  • POSHAN tracker- The Ministry of Women and Child Development has developed a new software tool called the Poshan Tracker. The aim is to streamline the supply side of the scheme. This will replace the earlier ICDS CAS, because the data generated by it was not usable.
Advantages of POSHAN tracker-
  • It will provide a holistic view of distribution and access of nutrition services by Anganwadi centres and AWWs (Anganwadi workers) to eligible groups.
  • The software will ensure real-time updates, enhance transparency and enabling the system to identify last-mile beneficiaries.
  • The tracker carries a module that enables AWWs to identify and provide support to orphaned children [due Covid-19].

Over 2.94 million take-home rations and 1.35 crore hot cooked meals delivered and tracked using the tracker thus far.

What else needs to be done to address malnutrition?
  • Convergent actions, especially agriculture-nutrition convergence and strengthening of demand-side behaviour, can play a pivotal role in helping India tackle malnutrition.
    • Agriculture-nutrition convergence means creating agricultural policies which are based on a nutrition-sensitive approach. For e.g.: incentivizing the production of millets in an area that is rain-deficient results not only in nutritional well-being but also promotes sustainable agriculture.
  • Empower women farmer – The majority of India’s smallholder plots are worked upon by women farmers. Government should invest in nutrition-sensitive agricultural programmes. This can help women and their communities live healthier and more prosperous lives.

Read Also :-Nutritional Security

The undernutrition problem in India can be addressed through scientific innovation, traditional knowledge systems, community participation, digital technologies, and data-driven management.

Source-The Indian Express

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