Poshan Abhiyan : Needed Boost

In News:

  • A Niti Aayog study has found that the National Nutrition Mission or the Poshan Abhiyaan must be stepped up to meet the targets set by the Centre  to reduce stunting, wasting and anaemia by 2022.

About: Poshan Abhiyaan

  • Over the decades, Schemes run by various ministries and the governments at various levels have clearly failed to achieve synergy and thus failed to tackle malnutrition in Inida.
    • As per the National Family Health Survey 4 released in 2016, more than a third of the children under five face stunting and wasting and 40% aged between one and four are anaemic. Over 50% of pregnant and other women were found to be anaemic.
  • To comprehensively tackle malnutrition, the union government, in 2018, launched flagship Poshan Abhiyaan (or National Nutrition Mission) in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan as an overarching scheme for Holistic Nourishment.
  • It is aimed at improving nutritional outcomes among pregnant women, lactating mothers and children by reducing the level of stunting, underweight, anaemia and low birth weight by 2022.
  • It is meant to benefit more than 10 crore people and was launched after a Cabinet decision on December 1, 2017.
  • The programme through use of technology, a targeted approach and convergence strives to reduce the level of stunting, under-nutrition, anemia and low birthweight in children, as also focus on adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers, thus holistically addressing malnutrition.
  • The Government has approved a 3-year budget of about Rs. 9000 crores, commencing from 2017-18, for this mission.

Also Read – POSHAN Abhiyan UPSC

Multipronged approach:

  • A multipronged approach under Poshan Abhiyan will have the following components as the pillars of the Mission:
  • Convergence:
    • POSHAN will provide the required convergence platform for all such schemes and thus augment a synergized approach towards Nutrition.
    • Convergence at centre is being achieved through formation of the National Council for Nutrition and the Executive Committee for POSHAN Abhiyaan. Similarly, the Convergence Action Plan at State, district and block level define the implementation and monitoring mechanism for the Abhiyaan.
  • Behavioural change, IEC Advocacy :
    • The problem for malnutrition is inter-generational and is dependent on multiple factors and socio-behavioural change is needed to address this.
    • The Mission seeks to mobilise the masses towards creating a nutritionally aware society. The aim is to generate a Jan Andolan towards Nutrition.
  • ICDS-CAS (Common Application Software):
    • The Abhiyaan empowers the frontline functionaries i.e., Anganwadi workers and Lady Supervisors by providing them with smartphones.
    • The software application, ICDS Common application Software (ICDS-CAS) especially developed for this purpose enables data capture, ensures assigned service delivery and prompts for interventions wherever required.
  • Training and Capacity building:
    • e-ILA (e-Incremental Learning Approach) is an online system where programme functionaries will become more effective by learning to plan and execute each task correctly and consistently through methodical and ongoing capacity building.
  • Others: Apart from the above, the Mission will also have Innovations, Incentives and Grievance Redressal components.

Steps to ensure success of the scheme:

  • Various steps will be taken under the Abhiyaan to ensure success of the multiproned approach by achieving coordination and synergy. These include: 
    • Coordination: The National Council for Nutrition is tasked to provide policy directions, review programmes and establishing coordination and convergence of all ministries and their programmes relating to nutrition.
    • Workshops: The Ministry of Women and Child Development conducts National workshops on POSHAN Abhiyaan involving all the States/UTs to provide handholding in using the softwares involved, and to augment the convergence with the different Ministries involved.
    • Synergy: By synergising frontline functionaries and volunteers like DAY-NRLM Self help groups, ANMs, Co-operatives, Swasth Bharat Preraks etc., the Ministry plans to reach 11 crore people.
    • Swasth Bharat Preraks: Under the Abhiyaan, Swasth Bharat Preraks will be deployed one in each district for coordinating with district officials and enabling fast and efficient execution of the Abhiyaan across the country.

News Summary:

  • The National Nutrition Mission or the Poshan Abhiyaan is said to be the world’s largest nutrition programme for pregnant women, lactating mothers and children.
  • It was launched in 2018 with specific targets to be achieved by 2022, including:
    • To reduce stunting and wasting by 2% a year (total 6% until 2022) among children
    • To reduce anaemia by 3% a year (total 9%) among children, adolescent girls and pregnant women and lactating mothers
  • A Niti Aayog study released recently noted that the Poshan Abhiyaan must be stepped up to meet the targets set by the Centre  to reduce stunting, wasting and anaemia by 2022.

NITI Aayog’s third progress report on the Nutrition Mission:

  • Niti Aayog called for accelerated actions on multiple fronts.
  • It called for scaling up of interventions through a POSHAN-plus strategy which will require:
    • continued strengthening of the four pillars of the Abhiyaan
    • new and renewed focus on other social determinants of nutrition
    • addressing the governance challenges of NHM/ICDS delivery mechanisms
  • The report calls for a need to lay as much emphasis on complementary feeding as it does on breastfeeding, which it points out can help avert 60% of the total stunting cases in India.
  • Mission targets are not steep enough:
    • The Niti review found that the Mission’s targets are conservative, and not steep enough as per international standards.
    • On stunting, the review says that India’s targets (of reducing stunting levels to 13.3% by 2022) are conservative as compared to the global target defined by the World Health Assembly (WHA), which is a prevalence rate of 5% of stunting.
    • On anemia also, the target of reducing prevalence levels of anaemia among pregnant women from 50.3% in 2016 to 34.4% in 2022 and among adolescent girls from 52.9% in 2016 to 39.66%, is also considered conservative.

Covid impact:

  • One significant aspect is that the NITI report on the Mission was prepared before COVID-19 spread rapidly across the country, but was released only recently.
  • Experts fear that worsening poverty and hunger levels over the past seven months due to COVID-19 will hurt the strides made since 2018 to achieve nutritional targets under the Mission.
  • The projections in the study would need to be re-adjusted for the COVID-19 disruptions to health and nutrition services.

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