The cabinet on Tuesday is likely to approve a multi-sectoral initiative to curb India’s high child malnutrition rate, described as a “national shame” by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
India has one of the highest -- 42 % -- number of malnourished children in the world. According to government data every second child under the age of three is malnourished in India, a reflection of how poorly various schemes/programs launched over the years to tackle the issue have fared.
As part of the nutrition initiative, the government has proposed to set up nutrition councils at state and district level which will focus on incorporating specific pro-nutrition elements in different schemes of the government and ensure that they reach targeted beneficiaries.
The Rs 1161 crore program will be launched across 200 high burdened districts –where child malnutrition rate area alarmingly high -- in phases. During 2013-14, it will take off in 100 districts that have the worst maternal and child health track record. In the second phase it will be scaled up to include 100 more districts.
Multi sectoral programs involving different ministries such as women & child development (WCD), health, rural development, panchayati raj, etc. will be introduced to address maternal and child nutrition.
Specific nutrition action plan will be drawn up keeping in mind specific requirement of districts to ensure prevention and reduction in under-nutrition and anemia among children under three years, adolescent girls and lactating mothers.
The WCD ministry which will implement the plan will work in close coordination with the state government and other stakeholder ministries.
The plan was being pushed by the Prime Minister’s National Council on India’s nutrition challenges.
“Currently, different ministries running nutrition related schemes were working in silos. It was felt that convergence between ministries with sectoral commitment to nutrition will be more effective in addressing the problem,” said a WCD ministry official.