POSHAN Abhiyaan : Analysis

POSHAN Abhiyan:
  • POSHAN Abhiyaan (National Nutrition Mission) is a flagship programme of the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • The Mission is aimed at improving the nutritional status of Children from 0-6 years, Adolescent Girls, Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers in a time bound manner during the next three years beginning 2017-18.
  • The Abhiyan aims to achieve convergence with various programmes i.e., Anganwadi Services, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, Scheme for Adolescent Girls, Janani Suraksha Yojana, National Health Mission, Swachh-Bharat Mission, Public Distribution System, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
Poshan Abhiyan: Analysis:
  • Poshan Abhiyaan which focuses on reducing stunting, under-nutrition and anaemia in women and adolescents through direct cash transfers is a massive step towards eradicating malnutrition.
  • Poshan Abhiyaan has got global recognition for its effort to eradicate malnutrition.
  • Cash transfers under the mission provide an additional support to the family income.
  • The whole issue of malnutrition requires concrete action starting from the grassroot level at households as well as the community level.
  • The first and the most important step for reducing malnutrition in India is providing sufficient nutrition to pregnant and lactating mothers. The child then automatically is at much less risk of being malnourished.
Status of nutrition in India as per NFHS 5:
  • Improvement in maternal-child health services, including antenatal care (ANC) services, child immunizations and diarrhoea management.
  • Improvement in fixing the underlying causes of undernutrition, such as improved sanitation services, a lower total fertility rate, 10 years of schooling etc.
  • These positive outcomes were achieved through greater political commitment, and initiatives like Jandhan Yojana ,Mission Indradhanush and Janani Suraksha Yojana under the National Health Mission, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Ujjawala Scheme, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao .
Areas where India needs improvement:
  • Every third child under five and a fifth of women is undernourished, while more than every second child, adolescent and woman is anaemic.
  • Lack of essential nutrition interventions during the first 1,000 days of life (270 days of pregnancy and 730 days 0-24 months).
  • No maternal nutrition policy and weak implementation of infant and young child feeding policy
  • Although, there has been an Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) policy since 2000. Caregivers are not well-informed about what, when and how often to feed a child over six months, contributing to obesity, micronutrient deficiencies and increased chances of adult-onset non-communicable diseases.
  • Behavioural Changes: Some studies show that 20% of undernourished children are from communities with the highest wealth index which highlights that the main reason behind these issues is a failure to effect behavioural problems and lack of awareness.
  • Nutrition care is divided into prevention and care between our health system and ICDS: ICDS is the main government program to improve the nutritional status, but has no opportunities for direct contact with the young mother to influence nutrition practices.
Way forward:
  • Training mothers for early care and breastfeeding: Only 9.8% of the children of such trained mothers were underweight at six months, compared to 18.1% of the children of untrained mothers.
  • Complementary feeding of semi-solids also needs attention. Only one in 10 children above 6 months receives an adequate diet in line with the recommended frequency of semi-solids.
  • Frequent interpersonal counselling by health workers/medical teams at the right time can be a game changer.
  • Merging the human resources of ICDS with India’s primary healthcare system would strengthen maternal-child nutrition and healthcare workforce and teamwork. This could cost-effectively lower child mortality, as 68% of India’s under-5 mortality is associated with undernutrition.