Topic of the Day – National Nutrition Strategy

With a renewed focus on Nutrition, the National Institution for Transforming India – NITI Aayog launched National Nutrition Strategy on the 5th of September 2017. As per the strategy document, the Integrated Child Development Services Mission would be expanded to form a National Nutrition Mission along the lines of National Health Mission under the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD).

Need for National Nutrition Strategy IAS

About 1/3rd of the children in India are under-nourished. India is paying an income penalty of about 9-10% as a result of a workforce that was stunted during their childhood. About 20% of the children under the age of 5 suffer from wasting because of acute undernutrition. 60% of children and 50% of pregnant women in the country are anaemic. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) figures show some progress with a fall in overall levels of undernutrition in both children and women. However, the speed of decline is way below as compared to various other nations with growth trajectories similar to that of India. In addition to that, there is a dearth of real-time measurement of these determinants, reducing India’s capacity to target the action among vulnerable children and mothers.

The National Nutrition Strategy intends to bring nutrition to the centre stage of National Development Agenda. Uptake of food, drinking water & sanitation, income & livelihoods and health services- the four proximate determinants of nutrition are included in the Nutritional Strategy framework. The Nutrition strategy framework envisions Kuposhan Mukt Bharat (Malnutrition free India) – linked to Swachh Bharat and Swasth Bharat. It aims at ensuring every child, adolescent girl and woman attain optimal nutritional status by 2022 through the states design customized District Action Plans to address local needs and challenges. It also seeks the intervention of Panchayats & Urban Local Bodies in achieving the objectives and creating accountability for nutritional outcomes through governance reforms. Setting up of a steering group headed by the Minister for Women and Child Development has been suggested for monitoring of the progress of the mission and is expected to directly report to the Prime Minister.

The behavioural change efforts for generating demand for nutritional services are often overshadowed by the supply side challenges. Therefore, the National Nutrition Strategy gives importance to community mobilization and demand as key stimulation factors to address the nutritional needs in the country.

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