UNICEF Representative in India Yasmin Ali Haque says Poshan Abhiyan is a massive step towards eradicating malnutrition and also serves as an added income for families. It is a central government scheme that focuses on reducing stunting, under-nutrition, and anemia in women and adolescents through direct cash transfers.

POSHAN Abhiyan is implemented by Ministry of Women and Child Development and aims at ensuring holistic development and adequate nutrition for pregnant women, mothers and children.

The Union Government has signed $200 million loan agreement with World Bank for National Nutrition Mission (POSHAN Abhiyan) for 315 districts across all states and union territories.

About POSHAN ABHIYAN

The Abhiyaan targets to reduce stunting, under-nutrition, anemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and reduce low birth weight by 2%, 2%, 3% and 2% per annum respectively.

The target of the mission is to bring down stunting among children in the age group 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by 2022.

Scheme

  • It targets to reduce level of under-nutrition and other related problems by ensuring convergence of various nutrition related schemes.
  • It also targets stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and low birth rate.
  • It will monitor and review implementation of all such schemes and utilize existing structural arrangements of line ministries wherever available.
  • Its large component involves gradual scaling-up of interventions supported by ongoing World Bank assisted Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Systems Strengthening and Nutrition Improvement Project (ISSNIP) to all districts in the country by 2022

Malnutrition status in India

According to a latest Unicef report, nearly one in three persons in India has at least one form of malnutrition and this will climb to one in two by 2025, going by current trends.

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4, 2015-16, one in every five Indians (both genders) is too thin with a BMI of less than 18.5, while every fourth male and second female is anaemic.

The NFHS report also found that one in three women consume dark green leafy vegetables, chicken/meat/fish/eggs only once a week while one in two women do not consume fruits even once a week.

According to the latest Global Nutrition Report, India is facing a major malnutrition crisis as it holds almost a third of the world’s burden for stunting. With 46.6 million children who are stunted, India tops the list, followed by Nigeria (13.9 million) and Pakistan (10.7 million), the report mentioned.

Conclusion

Educating the families on the need for nutrition is also very important. Behavioural changes have to be introduced in families. The government should also take more initiatives on reaching out to households. Also, currently the policies are majorly focused on pregnant mothers and lactating children, but the government also needs to think about how to provide nutrition to growing children.

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