3-fold hike in budget for children health plan
Facing flak for failing to check the prevalence of malnourishment among children in India, the Centre finally approved a nearly three-fold increase in budget to revamp the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).delhi Updated: Jul 25, 2012 02:32 IST
Facing flak for failing to check the prevalence of malnourishment among children in India, the Centre finally approved a nearly three-fold increase in budget to revamp the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).
The move comes after dilly dallying for about a year, for the crucial centrally sponsored program, which monitors health and nutrition of children in the 0-6 age group.
“The Centre’s Expenditure Finance Committee cleared the scheme restructuring proposal. It has approved R1.2 lakh crore for the scheme during the 12th Plan (2012-17) period. It will now go to the Cabinet for clearance,” said a source."In the 11th plan period, R44,400 crore was allocated for the scheme," said a source.
The move comes at a time when India’s abysmal child health track record has come under severe criticism from all quarters. India continues to have one of the highest — 42 % — of malnourished children in the 0-6 age group, in the world. Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in January, described it as a “national shame.”
Despite being launched in 1975, the scheme has not been affective. Poor infrastructure, lack of resources, overburdened staff, lax monitoring leading to pilferage and poor enforcement has reduced the efficacy of this child intervention program targeted at the 0-6 age group.
After deliberating for over a year, the women and child development ministry last year finalised the restructuring plan and sought R1.83 lakh crore for the scheme in the 12th plan.
As part of he revamping plan, the ministry has been directed to focus on 200 high burden districts — which have the highest prevalence of malnourished children — each year till 2017. Besides, the staff strength at child care centres (anganwadi’s) will be increased.
The working time of these centres is also being increased from four to six hours. Special centres would be set up periodically to monitor growth of severely malnourished children.