New Delhi: In a bid to tackle malnutrition, government is developing an Atlas to map the crops and food grains grown in different regions of the country so that nutritious protein rich food in local areas can be promoted.
The ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) in association with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Deendayal Research Institute is developing a POSHAN atlas under POSHAN abhiyan, government's multi-ministerial convergence mission with the vision to ensure attainment of malnutrition free India by 2022.
“The POSHAN atlas will map the crops and food grains grown in different regions of the country because the solution to tackling malnutrition lies in promoting regional cropping patterns and embracing local food that are rich in protein," said Smriti Irani, Union Minister of WCD. She was speaking at the 5th National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges.
“Moreover, a humane solution has to be developed to tackle the menace of malnutrition in India and for this the economic benefits of investing in nutrition has to be highlighted and propagated. POSHAN is an exercise for life for all citizens and should not be limited to women and children," she said.
According to the World Bank Global Nutrition Report – 2018, malnutrition costs India at least $10 billion annually in terms of lost productivity, illness and death and is seriously retarding improvements in human development and further reduction of childhood mortality.
POSHAN abhiyan is focusing on ensuring the nutrition of children, women, and pregnant mothers in impoverished areas and the government seems to be looking at community management of the problem.
“Community Management of Acute Malnutrition is a proven approach to manage severe acute malnutrition and moderate acute malnutrition in children under five that involves timely detection of acutely malnourished children in the community and provision of treatment for those without medical complications with nutrient-dense foods at home," said Sujeet Ranjan, Executive Director of The Coalition for Food and Nutrition (Coalition).
The National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges is mandated to provide policy directions to address India’s nutritional challenges through a coordinated inter sectoral action; coordinate and review convergence between Ministries; and review programmes for nutrition on a quarterly basis.
“In response to the growing number of severely acute malnourished children, Maharashtra also went on to implement a community-based management strategy, where community workers helped identify and manage cases through use of different centrally and locally produced therapeutic food," Mrudula Phadke, senior adviser, National Rural Health Mission and UNICEF said.
Irani recommended that in order to acknowledge the unsung heroes of the POSHAN Abhiyaan, who work tirelessly and selflessly for the cause of nutrition like the Aganwadi and ASHA workers, a system of ranking of states on health and nutritional parameters may be developed.
“NITI Aayog may develop a framework for the states to rank districts. The process of ranking may involve citizens and civil society," said Irani.
WCD Ministry observed POSHAN Maah in September 2019. During the month long POSHAN Abhiyaan 22 lakh programmes were held and 3.66 crore activities were organised in different parts of the country. Village Health, Sanitation and Nutrition Day (VHSND) programmes were also organised in 7.86 lakh places.
“While Poshan Maah is a concerted, intensified effort to make communities as active stakeholders in the fight against malnutrition, POSHAN Abhiyaan, through their continued behavior change communication strategies aims to keep the momentum going until nutrition becomes everybody’s agenda. With such focused efforts, we are certainly moving towards a Swasth Bharat," said Chandrakant S. Pandav, Member National Council for India Nutritional Challenges, POSHAN Abhiyan.