What We Need is a Humane Solution, says Smriti Irani on Malnutrition

A humane solution has to be developed to tackle the menace of malnutrition in India and for this, the economic benefits of investing in nutrition have to be highlighted and propagated, said The Union Minister of Women and Child Development, Smriti Zubin Irani. She made her comments while chairing the 5th National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges yesterday in New Delhi.

WCD Minister quoted the World Bank Global Nutrition Report – 2018 which says that malnutrition costs India at least USD 10 billion annually in terms of lost productivity, illness and death and is seriously retarding improvements in human development and further reduction of childhood mortality. POSHAN is an exercise for life for all citizens and should not be limited to women and children, she further stated.

WCD Minister suggested that in order to acknowledge the unsung heroes of the POSHAN Abhiyaan, who work tirelessly and selflessly for the cause of nutrition like the Aganwadi and ASHA workers, a system of ranking of states on health and nutritional parameters may be developed and for this NITI Aayog may develop a framework for the states to rank districts. Minister further suggested that the process of ranking may involve citizens and civil society.

During the meeting of the Council, presentations were made by the Ministry of WCD, NITI Aayog and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare regarding implementation of the POSHAN Abhiyaan by the states. Discussions took place in detail about the challenges being faced in aspirational districts and in the states that are lagging behind.

WCD Ministry placed before the Council the report of the POSHAN Maah observed on September 2019. During the month long POSHAN Abhiyaan 22 lakh programmes were held and 3.66 crore activities were organised in different parts of the country. Village Health, Sanitation and Nutrition Day programmes were also organised in 7.86 lakh places.

The WCD Minister thanked Prime Minister of India for taking up the subject of POSHAN during Maan ki Baat on 25th August 2019 which had a countrywide impact. She also thanked all State Governments and District Administration for making the POSHAN Maah a success. However, she stressed that this battle may not be restricted to only one month in a year but has to be fought every day if India has to eradicate the scourge of malnutrition, stunting and wasting.

The National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges is mandated to provide policy directions to address India’s nutritional challenges through a coordinated inter sectoral action; coordinate and review convergence between Ministries; and review programmes for nutrition on a quarterly basis.

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