Building an Empire over hungry stomachs!!

Posted by AKRITI MENDIRATTA on Mon, Oct 1, 2012  
No of Views(3794)

Malnutrition, endemic poverty and low household incomes over the years have resulted in poor nutritional status resulting in food distress and food insecurity. When families and people suffer, children and women suffer most due to their greater vulnerability and higher biological need for nutritional protection and security. Some of the fact finding missions pointed out that out of the 26 million children born in India every year, approximately 1.83 million dies before their fifth birthday and half of these children actually die within a month of being born. Also, nearly 2,500 children of those who die have not even survived for more than a month. This is an indication of not only the inability of the parents to provide adequate nutrition to their new born, but more than that is a reflection of the impoverished condition, especially of the mother.


The Government of India has recently passed Food Security Bill which is proposed by National Advisory Council to ensure no one dies out of hunger and in order to address widespread micronutrient malnutrition deficiencies our government is now actively considering the fortification of multiple staple foods that could be made available through open market channels, through the Public Distribution System and also through public funded programs such as the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) program and the Mid-Day meals program Also, with a view to improve the health and nutritional status of children in the age group of 0-6 years, pregnant women and lactating mothers, the Supplementary Nutrition Program (SNP) has been included as one of the most important components of the ICDS through Anganwadi centers in villages. The government claims that this program has proved to be one of the most important food-based interventions in the State to reduce morbidity and mortality among the vulnerable sections of the population as growing infants and children, adolescent girls, pregnant women and nursing mothers face far greater risk from the nutritional depletion than others. 


Despite of all this, are we not aware as to what extent poverty and hunger prevails in our country or do we need to focus on our healthcare delivery system and its approach?


To have an answer to this, a study was conducted by a team of social activists all over India through field visits to Anganwadi center in villages and the facts and evidences captured are very much disheartening. In most of the Anganwadi centers, the raw food was found to be infested and the supplementary nutrition was cooked at a place full of rodents and flies. Each beneficiary child for SNP is supposed to have his/her growth chart maintained by Anganwadi worker that shows the health and nutrition status of the child. But, it was observed that on an average 30 out of 40 beneficiary children did not have their growth charts maintained. In addition, it was found that the growth charts were plotted incorrectly as the information box was incomplete; weights were noted without using the weighing scale as the weighing scale was found out of order; thus the growth curves were inappropriate. Moreover, on discussion with the Anganwadi worker, it was noticed that she was incompetent enough to fill them. Also, on a random interview with few mothers in various villages, it was noticed that the growth chart & health and nutrition status of the child was never ever discussed with them.


Yes, India is surely an emerging economic superpower, but building an Empire over hungry stomachs! The real situation on the status of SNP in Anganwadi centers depicts various issues and gaps in the system that hampers successful implementation of the program in the country. There is a need for proactive steps to strengthen the ICDS and implementation of evidence-based, focused strategies along with proper monitoring to ensure effective service delivery at grass-root level.




Post a Comment

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.

Popular Contributors

Lachmi Deb Roy subnirmala HannahSP Krishna Bora Dr.Trupti Antony76 Lakshmi Gopal ThelmaSimon aruna75