India’s efforts to acknowledge and tackle undernutrition dates back to the time of independence, with a large number of policies addressing major areas of public health nutrition needs. The substantial focus was on “provision” and “supplementation” for masses.
However, with innate trust on traditional healers, the uptake for theses services was low by the communities. Another missing link has been the “policy coherence”—the contribution of other (non- nutrition) sectors and a convergent method of addressing the complex problem of undernutrition. Hence, there was a need for an intervention which is co-created with the community, health, nutrition and allied sector so that Nutrition is established as a Public Agenda.
Recognizing the fact that addressing malnutrition requires multi-sectoral efforts, Reckitt Benckiser (RB) is working with multiple partners having expertise in large scale implementation, design research firms, social technology agencies to develop scalable locally contextualized malnutrition programme, and to support the government, to end malnutrition amongst the most vulnerable population in Maharashtra.
The project is intervening in first 1000 days, utilising digital and artificial intelligence-based innovative modules, strengthening the health, hygiene and nutrition status of pregnant women and children and targeting towards 40% reduction in the number of children under-5 who are stunted, reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 5%.
The project has worked with local communities to build up a workforce of travelling Community Nutrition Workers (CNWs), who are rigorously trained by a team of public health experts, paediatricians, gynaecologists and community development specialists. Going from village to village, the CNWs delivers simple and effective messaging around nutrition and hygiene to create behavioural nudges using specially designed games, nutrition kits, multimedia stimuli, and community festivals.
It has also employed a host of behavioural nudges, apps, games, nutrition kits, multimedia stimuli, and engaging social experiences to build community capacity around nutrition and hygiene. Technology has been deployed in various forms across the programme; from using real-time data monitoring, blockchain to track and enable conditional cash transfers to women who travel to and complete the treatment cycle at a nutritional rehabilitation centre as well as verify service provision at every touchpoint. Most importantly, the entire programme hinges on its synchronization with local health cultures and close collaboration with a network of traditional health providers and the communities who are not passive beneficiaries but key actors in the process of transformation. The project has started showing early trends, lives of about 6,500 under-five children are saved in a span of 10 months, which is positive and encouraging.
Executive Summary of Nutrition India Programme Report by Ravi Bhatnagar, who is the Director- External Affairs and Partnerships, AMESA RB Health
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NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.