Mending the Hunger Gap
By Smiley Gumber
India charts the largest number of malnourished children. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) in 2006 shows that about 48% or 61 million, under-five children in the country are stunted, meaning (they have low height for their age); 43%, or 53 million, are underweight; and nearly 20 per cent, or 25 million, are wasted (low weight for height).
The progressive India, despite growing into one of the world’s fastest economies failed to look on fight this epidemic called Malnutrition. The nutritional status of Indian children are getting toiled with every with one of the world’s worst levels of malnutrition. It’s a well-known fact that with an adequate nutritional status and hygiene a child is much likely to have grow with better immunity, lesser dropouts and better performance rate in schools and tend to become much productive adults. On the contrary, the undernourished children, who usually belong to the poor socio-economic strata; gets trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty and poor health.
As per the data, the 25 million wasted children; eight million are severely wasted or suffer adversely from severe acute malnutrition. India is home to around one-third for such children. It shows 60% of these children are living in the rooting six states: Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
Let’s have a look on the schemes and programs run by government to eradicate malnutrition –
- Mid-day Meal Scheme: The Mid-day meal (MDM) scheme provides a wholesome freshly-cooked lunch served to children in government and government-aided schools in India. The program supply food for children in primary classes in government school and education centers. The MDM Scheme aims to not only avoid classroom hunger but also works on increasing the school enrolment and work on school and class attendance. They wish to empower the weaker section women by giving them employment and work on to address issues such as malnutrition and sanitation as well.
- ICDS Systems strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project: It makes efforts to promote healthy pregnancy, timely and exclusive breastfeeding, and infant and young child feeding practices, for improvements in personal hygiene with a particular focus on children under the age grou p of 3. This Project was launched to support the Government of India along with the states to work and strengthen on the ICDS policy framework and capacities, and along with this to facilitate community engagement, making sure a greater focus on children under three years of age for have improved nutrition outcomes.
- National Rural Health Mission (NRHM): The National Rural Health Mission of India mission aims is to improve the availability of and access to quality health care by people, especially for those residing in rural areas such as poor, women, and children. The NRHM seeks to provide equitable and affordable quality health care to the rural population, especially the most vulnerable groups. The major goal of the mission is on establishing a fully functional, community owned, health delivery system with inter-sectorial convergence at all levels, to ensure a simultaneous action on a wide spectrum of determinants focusing on health such as water, nutrition, sanitation, education, social and gender equality.
- National Iodine Deficiency Disorders Control Program (NIDDCP): Iodine, an essential micro nutrient which is required daily at 100-150 micro grams for normal human growth and development. The Government of India launched a centrally assisted National Goiter Control Program (NGCP) in 1962. In August, 1992 the NGCP was renamed as National Iodine Deficiency Disorders Control Program (NIDDCP) with a view of to treat Iodine Deficiency Disorders such as still births, abortions, mental and physical retardation, deaf mutinous, cretinism, squints & various types of goiter.
- Mothers Absolute Affection (MAA): A nationwide program launched in to an bring undiluted focus on promotion of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is one of the natural, important and cost effective resource every child deserves and should have an access to. This program will help onto reduce the death under-five mortality of children. With promotion to early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of the child birth and thereafter exclusively breastfeeding the baby for the course of first six months which is essential for the wellness of the child.
- The Fight Hunger First Initiative Program: An innovative project titled Fight Hunger First Initiative, Welthungerhilfe works on significantly to improve key indicators related to food and nutrition security in the vulnerable parts of India. The approach is based on a premise that in the long run the people belonging to poor income group can break and come out from the vicious cycle of poverty & malnutrition if adequate welfare schemes are in place and they have an access to proper education, food & better health services, with regular state-run welfare programs. It aims to improve access of communities of rights and entitlements accrued to them by government schemes, with employment, child nutrition, food supplies and primary education.
Over to you
There should be much more awareness regarding the schemes to make the general public; mothers and families to make them understand the importance of how a child’s nutritional status; balanced diet play such a key role in their development. Along with this, regular follow ups and strict monitoring should be done of anganwadi and program officers to evaluate proper implementation of the schemes. Community workers and NGO’s should come with ideas to take such schemes to door to door with free immunizations; check -ups and delivery of staples. We hope with changing times, we can fight this issue and provide a better life to children and families.
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