The state has intensified its efforts to reduce malnutrition by flagging off a month-long “Intensive Nutrition Programme”. Under the programme, 10,000 “high priority anganwadis” across the state, selected out of the 52,137 that have recorded higher number of underweight children, will undergo check-ups by experts who will set up camps at these anganwadis for a month.
The first phase of this programme, under the “Mission Balam Sukham”, was launched by Chief Minister Anandiben Patel on August 14. Under this, 52,711 underweight children between 6 months and 6 years of age will be monitored, screened and provided nutritive food between 8 am and 5 pm every day across 2,000 anganwadis in 30 days.
“Under this programme, we are only focusing on 10,000 anganwadi centres (AWCs) that have not recorded any improvement in the numbers of underweight children and will complete it in five phases. The state government has allotted Rs 27 crore in this Budget to focus on these children. We will supervise these AWCs in the next 30 days and will pick up these laggards (3,900), who will be given an extra push with five times camp-based protocol feeding till 5 pm daily. Also, we will provide medical check-ups, dietary supplements, one carry-home nutritive meal, along with multi-vitamins, counselling sessions for parents and referrals of severely underweight children to other medical centres till 14 September in all 31 districts,” said Anju Sharma, IAS, commissioner and secretary, Women and Child Development (WCD).
A press release of the information department at the Mahila Sashaktikaran Mahasammelan, held at Patan on August 14, says that the “INP” will be conducted in only 12 districts. Officials from the WCD, however, did not furnish details on other districts. The release mentions that the government’s expenditure on providing nourishment to a malnourished child is Rs 45 daily. On 20 children, it is Rs 900 per day under the programme. The malnutrition data of 12 districts, including Sabarkantha, Patan, Porbandar, Bharuch, Amreli, Tapi, the Dangs, Ahmedabad, Banaskantha, Rajkot, Valsad and Surat were handed out in the release.
The release mentions that of the 12 districts that will be part of the month-long drive, Patan recorded the maximum number of underweight children (from 6 months to 6 years) between September 2012 and March 2014 at 7,798, followed by the Dangs with 4,004, Valsad (3,748), Ahmedabad (2,636), Bharuch (2,439) and Rajkot (2101), among others.
Under phase one, all the AWCs of eight districts, like Sabarkantha, Patan, Porbandar, Bharuch, Amreli, Tapi, the Dangs and Valsad, will be taken up in the intensive nutrition programme while only around 86 of 447 anganwadis in Ahmedabad, 100 out of 225 from Banaskantha, 100 out of 160 in Rajkot and 43 out of 306 in Surat will be taken up.