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HindustanTimes Wed,16 Apr 2014

State focus on pregnant mums, infants to combat malnutrition

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, November 06, 2012
First Published: 01:37 IST(6/11/2012) | Last Updated: 01:41 IST(6/11/2012)

In a bid to tackle urban malnutrition, the state government on Monday launched a  programme under the state’s RJMC Health and Nutrition Mission, focusing on pregnant women and children up to two years of age.

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The programme, that will focus on nutrition and health, will run between November 14, 2012 to April 2013.

The program will replicate the activities undertaken by the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in rural areas.

“Stunting happens early in life. The first 1000 days of life are the window of opportunity to reduce cases of stunting,” said Dr Victor Aguayo, chief, child nutrition and development, UNICEF.

Officials said the period from conception to age 2 is important as 90% of the brain development occurs during this period.

According to the Comprehensive Nutrition Survey in Maharashtra report, 22.8% of children below two years are stunted in the state.

The state has decided to focus its efforts on pregnant mothers to tackle low birth weight, which is one of the major causes of malnourishment in children.

“Earlier the focus was on children up to six years of age, now we want to focus on pregnant mothers also,” said Vandana Krishnan, director general, RJMC Health and Nutrition Mission.

The state has established Mata committee’s which will have representatives of mother’s in the community where aanganwadis function under the ICDS scheme. The committees will be responsible for checking food items served in aanganwadis.

A report showed that despite of 88.1% institutional deliveries, only 61.8% mothers said that they breastfed the child within one hour of birth.

“If the percentage of institutional deliveries is higher in private hospital, it looks like many companies would be marketing the baby food products, which might be the reason for lower percentage of breastfeeding,” said state chief minister, Prithviraj Chavan.

"Negative impact of malnutrition is huge. The economic loss to the nation because of malnutrition is high. Our new focus is 1000 days," he added.

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