A new scheme to fight malnutrition and restructuring the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) are likely to be finalised at a meeting of a national council headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday.
The council, which is meeting for the first time since its inception two yeas ago, will consider a new umbrella scheme — National Mother and Child Malnutrition Prevention and Reduction Programme — to reduce India’s malnutrition rate, pegged at 35.6 per cent, and anaemia among women, which is 55.3 per cent.
The Planning Commission had set a target to reduce the malnutrition and anaemia rates by half of its present level in the 11th plan ending 2012, but the country will not meet the target as per the mid-term appraisal of the plan.
In a last-ditch effort to achieve the target, the Prime Minister's Office got a national consultation of all stakeholders, whose recommendations to the PM’s council will be examined.
A key recommendation is to promote a rights-based approach with women’s empowerment as the mover of social change and focus on pregnant and lactating mothers.
The proposed mother and child nutrition scheme is aimed at synergising multi-sectoral interventions from existing schemes such as ICDS, National Rural Health Mission and mid-day meal and creation of new nutrition centres in each district. The new scheme will be rolled out with National Food Security law, it has been proposed.
The government is looking at restructuring ICDS in a bid to provide flexibility to the scheme in using resources in Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and National Rural Health Mission.