Malnutrition is a general term. It most often refers to under nutrition resulting from inadequate consumption, poor absorption or excessive loss of nutrients, but the term can also encompass over-nutrition, resulting from excessive intake of specific nutrients. An individual will experience malnutrition if the appropriate amount of, or quality of nutrients comprising for a healthy diet are not consumed for an extended period of time.
The level of malnutrition is of great concern in India with over 40% of children being classified as undernourished. Under nutrition is highly prevalent among rural children in India. Acute malnutrition is one of the major public health problems in the country and one of the contributing causes for high rates of mortality and morbidity among children and mothers. It is an underlying cause of about 50% deaths in children. The prevalence of underweight children in India (47%) is among the highest in the world. (Source: NFHS III 2005-06)
Here is the compilation of 10 best Government schemes that address Malnutrition problem in India:
- Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Program
Launched on 2nd October, 1975, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme is one of the world’s largest and unique program for early childhood care and development. It is the foremost symbol of country’s commitment to its children and nursing mothers, as a response to the challenge of providing pre-school non-formal education on one hand and breaking the vicious cycle of malnutrition, morbidity, reduced learning capacity and mortality on the other.
- Mothers Absolute Affection (MAA)
It is a nationwide program launched in August 2016 an attempt to bring undiluted focus on promotion of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is the most natural, cost effective and an enormous resource that every child has access to. This program will greatly help to reduce the under-five mortality of children. Early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth and thereafter exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is essential for the wellness of the child.
- National Iodine Deficiency Disorders Control Program (NIDDCP)
Iodine is an essential micro nutrient required daily at 100-150 micro grams for normal human growth and development. Realizing the magnitude of the problem, the Government of India launched a 100 per cent 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 wide spectrum of Iodine Deficiency Disorders like mental and physical retardation, deaf mutinous, cretinism, still births, abortions squint & various types of goiter, etc.
- National Nutritional Anemia Prophylaxis Program (NNAPP)
Anemia especially affect women in the reproductive age group and young children. In a recent survey of NFHS-4 states that 53% of women of reproductive age group suffering from anemia in India. Anemia affects over 3/4th of the school children due to low intake of iron and folic acid. Nutritional anemia, due to iron and folic acid deficiency, is directly or indirectly responsible for about 20 percent of maternal deaths. The NNAPP was started in 1970 as a centrally sponsored scheme.
Children 6-10 years old will be provided 30 mg elemental iron and 250 mcg folic acid per child per day for 100 days in a year. Adolescents, 11-18 years will be supplemented at the same doses and duration as adults. The adolescent girls will be given priority.
- Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG) – ‘SABLA’
This scheme aims at empowering Adolescent Girls (11-18 years) through nutrition, health care and life skills education. It has two major components viz. Nutrition and Non Nutrition.
Under the Nutrition component, the out of school Adolescent Girls (AGs) in the age group of 11-14 years attending Aanganwadi Centres and all girls in the age group of 14-18 years are provided Supplementary Nutrition containing 600 calories, 18-20 grams of protein and micro nutrients, per day for 300 days in a year.
- ‘Kishori Shakti Yojana’ (KSY)
For the first time in India, a special intervention was devised for adolescent girls using the ICDS infrastructure. The Adolescent Girls (AG) Scheme under ICDS primarily aimed at breaking the inter-generational life-cycle of nutritional and gender disadvantage and providing a supportive environment for self-development.
The broad objectives of the Scheme are to improve the nutritional, health and development status of adolescent girls, promote awareness of health, hygiene, nutrition and family care, link them to opportunities for learning life skills, going back to school, help them gain a better understanding of their social environment and take initiatives to become productive members of the society.
- Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) Program
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has rolled out the Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFS) Program in 2012-13 to meet the challenge of high prevalence and incidence of Iron Deficiency Anemia among adolescent girls and boys. The long term goal is to break the inter-generational cycle of anemia, the short term benefits is of a nutritionally improved human capital.
WIFS program include- weekly supervised administration of Iron and Folic Acid supplements to in-school adolescent girls and boys and out-of-school adolescent girls, screening of target groups for moderate/severe anaemia and referral, biannual de-worming and provision of information and counseling.
- Tamil Nadu Mid-Day Meal Scheme /Nutritious Meal Program (NMP)
Tamil Nadu was a front runner in the implementation of the scheme. A welfare State has the responsibility of ensuring an atmosphere in which children can grow with good health and good education. Poverty and hunger should not deprive a child from getting educated.
When children have to sit in class with empty stomachs, they cannot focus on learning. This scheme addresses the twin objective of improving nutritional status as well as enables the children to come to schools and remain there in school throughout the day.
Further, it has had other social benefits, such as inculcating the practice of all children irrespective of social backgrounds eating together, involvement of the local community in monitoring the meals and thus increased parental encouragement in schools and in some cases allowed local produce to be used in the meals also.
- Nutri Farms Scheme:
A pilot scheme on Nutri Farms has been launched in 2013-14 with an outlay of Rs.200 crores to promote cultivation of bio-fortified food crops enriched with critical micro nutrients like iron-rich bajra, protein rich maize and zinc-rich wheat etc., to improve the nutrition status of the most vulnerable sections of population of the country and it will add nutritional dimension to farming sector.
This programme has been implemented in 100 high malnutrition burden districts of 9 Northern and Eastern states. 280 Cluster demonstration units (one unit – 10 hectares) of identified nutri-rich crops in each district will be organised through identified beneficiary groups by State Department of Agriculture. Assistance of Rs.5000 per ha for the crops [Cereal crops – Rice, Maize, Pearl millet, Finger Millet, Wheat and Horticulture crops – Sweet Potato and Moringa] comes under this scheme will be provided to the farmers in the terms of critical inputs for organization of demonstrations of nutri-rich varieties of the identified crops.
- National Food Security Mission (NFSM)
Under National Food Security Mission(NFSM), targeted additional production of 25 million tonnes of food grains comprising of 10 million tonnes rice, 8 million tonnes of wheat, 4 million tonnes of pulses and 3 million tonnes of coarse cereals by the end of XII Plan.
There are other promising features under the Act, such as free daily meals for children and maternity benefits, including cash for pregnant women, which can combat rampant under nutrition (calorie deficiency) and malnutrition (protein deficiency) across the country. These steps may perhaps complement the existing nutritional programs such as mid-day meals and Integrated Child Development Services.
Now, availability of food grains especially in case of rice and wheat exceeds consumption requirement of food grains in the country. But, the level of malnutrition is not declining to desired extent and still there is deficiency of’ Iron, Zinc, Vitamin-A. The promotion of cultivation of micro-nutrients rich cultivars of these crops and development of their effective supply chain could help in reduction of malnutrition.
Images and Contents are Compiled from various Government sources (PIB, Departmental websites, Vikaspedia) and Institutions like FAO, WHO, UNESCO. To read the full length compilation click here.
Compiled by SATHEES KUMAR. T firstname.lastname@example.org