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Addressing the Problem of Malnutrition

As per National Family Health Survey-3 (2005-06), 40.4% of children under 3 years of age are underweight and 55.3% women in the age group of 15 – 49 years are anemic in the country. Prevalence of underweight in children below 3 years in Jharkhand and Gujarat is 54.6% and 41.1% respectively while anemia in women (15 – 45 years of age) is 69.5% and 55.3% respectively. 

The Eleventh Five Year Plan drew special attention to the health of marginalized groups, like children below the age of three, adolescent girls, women of all ages, elderly persons, the disabled, tribals, and Schedules Castes (SCs). These groups continue to warrant special attention. During the 11th Five Year Plan, the ICDS Scheme has been universalised with special focus on SC/ST and minority habitations. Two new schemes namely, Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG) – ‘SABLA’ and the other Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojna (IGMSY) implemented in select 200 and 52 respective districts as a pilot are being implemented using ICDS infrastructure and systems. The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) was introduced during the Eleventh Five Year Plan. 

The Government has accorded priority to the issue of malnutrition and is implementing several schemes /programmes of different Ministries/Departments through State Governments/UT Administrations. These programmes include the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme, National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Rajiv Gandhi Schemes for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG) namely SABLA, Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojna (IGMSY) as Direct targeted interventions. Besides, indirect Multi-sectoral interventions include Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), National Horticulture Mission, National Food Security Mission, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Total Sanitation Campaign, National Rural Drinking Water Programme etc. Several existing schemes/programmes have been expanded / universalized just before or during the Eleventh Five year Plan. The results of these interventions would be visible after some time. 

The responsibility of implementation of most of the above schemes lies with State Governments/ UT Administrations who have been advised from time to time to set up State Nutrition Council and other mechanisms to address the issue. 

Some of the recent decisions by the Prime Minister Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges to improve the nutrition situation have been to 

(i) strengthen and restructure ICDS with special focus on pregnant and lactating mothers and children under three 

(ii) prepare a multi-sectoral programme to address the maternal and child malnutrition in selected 200 high-burden districts 

(iii) launch a nationwide information, education and communication campaign against malnutrition and 

(iv) bring strong nutrition focus in programmes in sectors like health, drinking water supply and sanitation, school education, agriculture, food & public distribution. Work on all these issues is in progress. 

In addition, the proposed National Food Security Bill contemplates provision of supplementary nutrition under the ICDS scheme and maternity benefits for pregnant and lactating mothers and is expected to contribute to Food security. 



Source : Press Information Bureau

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