One of the major developmental challenges that India faces is malnutrition, which contributes significantly to India’s overall disease burden. Malnutrition has a significant effect on the proper infant and maternal growth and development as well as the socio-economic development.

As per the latest NFHS 5 data for Phase I released recently by the Hon’ble Health Minister, Government of India, that covered 17 states and 5 Union Territories, the Under 5 and infant mortality rate (IMR) has come down in 18 states and union territories but in parallel 16 states recorded an increase in underweight and severely wasted under 5 children among 22 states that were surveyed. Wasting percentage increased in under 5 children in 12 states and UTs in comparison to NFHS-4. The malnutrition indicators have worsened from the last survey, with the proportion of children with stunting rising, wasting going and anaemia. NFHS-5 also showed that 20 states and UTs saw rise in the percentage of overweight children under 5 years of age.

Prevalence of stunted children is higher in rural areas in comparison to urban areas, and it seems to peak at the age 18 to 23 months. Alarmingly, the prevalence of wasting has not declined, and remained at the level, it was three decades ago.

There are various factors which play a pivotal role in chronic malnutrition in children. One of the most important factors is the mother’s nutritional status. Around 36% of the population of women are underweight, and 53% of women and 56% of adolescent girls between 15 and 19 years old suffer from iron deficiency anaemia due to undernourishment in India. The decline in the prevalence of anaemic children and pregnant women has been awfully slow, a decline of 11.5% and 8.5% over a decade, respectively. The problem of malnutrition is inter-generational. Pregnant women and lactating women suffer from malnutrition the most, which will most likely result in a premature or low birth weight baby. This pattern perpetuates through the generations. The first 1000 days (conception to 2 years post-partum) are considered a ‘window of opportunity’ for addressing malnutrition. Another important factor which contributes to the level of malnutrition in India is poor hygiene and sanitation which leads to infections by pathogens and diseases like diarrhoea. According to WHO, 50% of the malnutrition cases are due to diarrhoea.

Government Efforts on Combating Malnutrition

There have been a host of policies in India which have been in practice since 1990 to tackle malnutrition, the key ones being Integrated Child Development Scheme launched in 1975, the National Nutrition Policy 1993, the Mid Day Meal Scheme for school children 1995, and the National Food Security Act 2013, as the prevalence of stunting, wasting and underweight remains high. In 2010, India launched another program, Pradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), a maternity benefit program that is a cash transfer scheme for pregnant and lactating women of 19 years of age or above for the first live birth.

The Government of India set up the “POSHAN Abhiyaan” on December 18, 2017 for a period of three years with an overall budget of Rs. 9046 crores. The goal of ‘POSHAN Abhiyaan’ is to achieve improvement in nutritional status of children from 0-6 years, adolescent girls, pregnant women, and lactating mothers in a time-bound manner During the three years, the program aims at achieving fixed targets in terms of improving nutritional outcomes, reduce the levels of stunting, underweight and low birth weight by 2% per annum and anaemia by 3% per annum. As per NFSH5, one of the significant improvements from

India Co-Win Action Network (ICAN) Contributing to Government’s POSHAN Abhiyaan Through POSHAN Jan Abhiyaan
ICAN has planned to contribute to Government of India’s POSHAN Abhiyaan through its initiative “POSHAN Jan Abhiyaan” in more than 15 districts in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The project will cover about 15 blocks in these districts. The envisaged project is being driven by NITI Aayog’s endeavour to achieve the goal of the POSHAN Abhiyaan. The initial six months of the project activities are being supported by Tata Trusts and Marico India.

Based on the experience of selected interventions to combat malnutrition in these districts, there is a plan to review the interventions midway during the project and plan a three-year long-term intervention covering more districts.  The project is expected to commence in early January 2021.

S. NO District Name of Organisation
1 Ayodhya Human Upliftment Mission (HUM)
2 Bahraich Trust Community Livelihoods
3 Basti Surya Foundation
4 Etwa Unit of Science and Educational Development (UNISED)
5 Farrukhabad Shanti Samaj Sevi Samiti
6 Fatehpur Aawahan- The New Voice
7 Hardoi Poorvanchal Gramin Vikas Sansthan (PGVS )
8 Jaunpur Ram Gramin Sewa Sansthan
9 Kannauj Shashwat Sahbhagi Sansthan
10 Kheri JPS Foundation
11 Mahrajganj Lok Pyas Society
12 Mirzapur Mahila Prabodhini Foundation
13 Pilibhit Shalini Memorial Sewa Sansthan
14 Shahjahanpur National Inst for Env and Agri.
15 Shrawasti Uttar Pradesh Gandhi Samrk Nidhi Sewa Puri

For more details, please contact:
Kamlakant Pathak
Email: kamlakant.pathak@icanonline.in
Mobile: 7208070872