By Kavita Bajeli-Datt
HYDERABAD, India, 26 July 2016 - A new dawn for millions of children in Andhra The State Government has decided to set up athe ‘Nutrition Mission’ to end get rid malnourishment malnutrition in the next ten years.
The Nutrition Mission aims at improving food intake of mother and child during the first 1,000 days of life, a period also known as the “window of opportunity”. It aims help in children below five years of age by 40 per cent. The 1,000 days start from pregnancy and lasts till the child’s second birthday.
Access to healthy food during this “window of opportunity” would also mean 50 per cent of anaemia in women in the reproductive age and 30 per cent fall in low birth cases.
About one-third of children below three years of age in AP are undernourished, 29.8 cent are underweight, 38.4 percentper cent have stunted growth and 14.9 cent are wasted as per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3). Under-nutrition is estimated to contribute to 45 percentper cent of child mortality in the state of weakened immunity. There are 9,142,802 children in the state, of which 4,427,852 are girls (in the age group of 0-6), as per the 2011 census.
The Nutrition Mission aims at improving food intake of mother and child during the first 1,000 days of life, a period also known as the “window of opportunity”. It aims help reducing stunted growth in children below five years of age by 40 percentper cent. The 1,000 days start from the pregnancy and lasts till the child’s second birthday.
Access to healthy food during this “window of opportunity” would also mean 50 percentper cent reduction of anaemia in women in the reproductive age and 30 percentper cent fall in low birth weight cases.
The Chief Minister, Chandra Babu Naidu, Chandrababu Naidu has set an ambitious deadline to end malnutrition from in the state within 10 years. The Chief Minister has also nounced the formation of an LegislativeAssembly Forum on Child Rights, comprising Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and Members of Legislative Council (MLCs), who will take the campaign to their constituencies. To make the mission a success, all government departments will coordinate their activities and programmes so that malnutrition can be abolished in a time-bound manner.
“I will be happy if this can be done in five years. We must have a clear target to achieve our goal,” the Chief Minister said at a recent event in Vijayawada.
Along with the long-term goal of eradicating malnourishment malnutrition in 10 years, the state government has also set an immediate target of controlling severe malnutrition in the next six months. Among the steps taken to achieve this goal, 5.71 lakhs pregnant and lactating mothers are provided services through 55,607 centres in the state, while one full meal is provided to pregnant and lactating mothers under the Anna Amrutha Hastham (AAH).
The plan now is to expand it further in all parts of the state.
The government also provides adolescent girls micronutrients through weekly iron-folic acid supplementation, while malnourished children are provided additional food under the Goru Programme across the state under which 133,733 children in 24 tribal pockets are covered.
Under the Mission, now focus will be given more to pregnant women, age appropriate complementary breastfeeding, right nutrition levels for adolescent girls and that girls don’t marry before the age of 18 years.
Improved sanitation will also be given high priority, as 46 percentper cent of households in the state still defecates in the open, which in turn becomes a major factorleads to compromised health, nutrition and eventually and the main driver for stunting.
UNICEF will join as a key partner for the Nutrition Mission and also help in setting up an international expert panel to monitor the indicators and introduce best practices to tackle the problem.
To make the initiative more effective in tackling the issue, UNICEF India Representative Louis-Georges Arsenault has been emphasising the need for state government to accelerate reduction of stunting, focusing attention in districts which are marginalised and have highest burden.
“As adults, their earning capacity is reduced by as much as five to 50 fifty percent. They face increased risk of nutrition related chronic diseases – such as overweight and diabetes. This all has a significant impact on the state’s and country’s economic growth and development,” pointed Louis-Georges Arsenault in his recent meeting with Chief Minister. He committed UNICEF complete support for helping make nutrition mission a success in the State.
UNICEF’s Child Development and Nutrition programme partners with the state government in addressing stunting and undernutrition among infants and young children.