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Govt launches Nutrition Mission aimed at 10 crore beneficiaries

The mission, approved by the Cabinet on Thursday, estimates an expenditure of Rs 9,046 crore over the next three years until March 31, 2020.

Written by Shalini Nair | New Delhi |
Updated: December 2, 2017 8:30:19 am
National Nutrition Mission , International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) , Global hunger index, india news, indian express news Union ministers Maneka Gandhi, Arun Jaitley and J P Nadda during a Cabinet briefing in New Delhi on Friday. (Express photo by Anil Sharma)

The Union government on Friday announced the launch of the National Nutrition Mission aimed at 10 crore beneficiaries, mainly children up to the age of 6 years, pregnant and lactating women, and adolescent girls. The mission, approved by the Cabinet on Thursday, estimates an expenditure of Rs 9,046 crore over the next three years until March 31, 2020. Half of this amount is proposed to come from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and other multilateral development agencies. The Union government’s budgetary share would be only Rs 2,850 crore while the remaining money would come from the states.

The mission sets a target to reduce stunting, under-nutrition, and low birth weight by 2 per cent per annum, and anaemia by 3 per cent annually. It would be executed with the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) as the nodal ministry along with Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare which is in-charge of immunisation. The mission aims to bring down the stunting percentage as per the National Family Health Survey-4 (2014-15) from 38.4 per cent to 25 per cent by 2022.

The recently released Global Hunger Index (GHI) ranked India at 100 out of 119 countries. According to the report, 14.5 per cent of the population is undernourished, 21 per cent of the under-five children suffer from wasting (low weight for height), 38.4 per cent under-five children are stunted (low height for their age), while the under-five mortality rate is 4.8 per cent in India.

WCD Secretary Rakesh Srivastava said there will be four main elements to the mission — growth monitoring, use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), convergence of related schemes of all three ministries, and focus on infant and young child feeding practices.

Officials added that ICT would be used for real time monitoring of the services provided by anganwadi workers, ASHA workers (accredited social health activists) and auxiliary nurse midwives. Srivastava said, “There would be GPS mapping. Smartphones will be given to anganwadi workers and supervisors will be given tablets. All details of beneficiaries like attendance, weight, height of children, pictures of meals served will be fed into it.”

He said a pilot has been conducted across 50,000 anganwadis in 162 districts for 42 lakh beneficiaries, helping the government identify 12,000 severely malnourished children. In 2017-18, the mission will cover 315 ‘high burden’ districts followed by 235 districts the next year and the remaining in 2019-20.

Officials said that aganwadi workers will be given incentives for helping beneficiaries with their Aadhaar linkage. Aadhaar numbers of beneficiaries over five-year-old and Aadhaar number of parents in case of children in the age group of 0-5 years would be used for the scheme, ministry officials clarified. “Some identification is required because we can’t have fake children in our system,” said WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi, adding that a study in Assam helped identify 3 lakh ‘fake beneficiaries’ in the state.

Maneka added that a decision on the mechanism for delivery of take home rations and on preparation of hot cooked meals in anganwadis would be taken by a separate technical committee. “Niti Aayog has been asked by the Prime Minister to make a technical board of nutrition scientists, paediatricians, headed by member Dr Vinod Paul,” she said.

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