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POSHAN 2.0: How Can India Attain Zero Malnutrition Target?

With the umbrella scheme of POSHAN 2.0, will India be able to end malnutrition and hunger by 2030? Here’s what you need to know

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POSHAN 2.0: How Can India Attain Zero Malnutrition Target?
Food systems should be inclusive, transparent and accountable to be able to reach zero hunger: Basanta Kar

New Delhi: UN’s Sustainable Development Goal number 2 is to ‘End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’ by 2030. However, the number of people affected by hunger, globally rose to as many as 828 million in 2021, an increase of about 46 million since 2020 and 150 million since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a United Nations report titled, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022 (SOFI). The report’s findings provide fresh evidence that the world is moving further away from its goal of ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030.

Keeping in line with this goal, India in 2018, launched a flagship scheme called PM’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment or POSHAN Abhiyan or to strengthen the efforts to end hunger and malnutrition.

In 2021, after the humanitarian and health crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a setback to this goal, the Central Government merged schemes like the Supplementary Nutrition Programme under Anganwadi Services, Scheme for Adolescent Girls and POSHAN Abhiyaan and re-aligned them as ‘Saksham Anganwadi and POSHAN 2.0’ for maximising nutritional outcomes.

As per the Ministry of Women and Child Development, POSHAN 2.0 seeks to address the challenges of malnutrition in children, adolescent girls, pregnant women, and lactating mothers by developing, improving, and promoting practices that focus on health, wellness, and immunity.

Poshan 2.0 also aims to promote diet diversity, and food fortification, leveraging traditional systems of knowledge and popularising use of millets. Nutrition awareness strategies under Poshan 2.0 aim to develop sustainable health and well-being through regional meal plans to bridge dietary gaps.

Also Read: “Nutritional Needs Of A Woman Are Higher While Breastfeeding”, Says Expert With Emphasis On A Balanced Diet

Under POSHAN 2.0, the new targets announced by the Ministry are as below:

  1. To prevent and reduce Stunting in children (0- 6 years) by 2% per annum
  2. To prevent and reduce under-nutrition in children (0-6 years) by 2% every year
  3. To reduce the prevalence of anaemia among young Children (6-59 months) by 3% per annum
  4. To reduce the prevalence of anaemia among Women and Adolescent Girls in the age group of 15-49 years by 3 per cent every year
  5. To reduce Low Birth Weight (LBW) by 2% every year

As per the recent report of the National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) (2019-21), the nutrition indicators for children under 5 years have improved as compared to NFHS-4 (2015-16). As per the report, nationally

  •  Stunting has reduced from 38.4 per cent to 35.5 per cent
  •  Wasting has reduced from 21.0 per cent to 19.3 per cent
  •  Underweight prevalence has reduced from 35.8 per cent to 32.1 per cent.

Furthermore, the percentage of women (15-49 years) whose Body Mass Index is below normal has reduced from 22.9 per cent in NFHS-4 to 18.7 per cent in NFHS-5.

Also Read: Benefits Of Breastfeeding For Mothers and Babies

Basanta Kumar Kar, Chief Advisor, The Coalition for Food and Nutrition Security, says that India’s malnutrition is a silent pandemic and addressing malnutrition in an Indian way with good governance and good policy is a prerequisite.

Poshan 2.0  raises aspirations. With equity and social justice in design, and elements like ‘Sakham Anganwadi’, promotion of traditional food habits, nutri-cereals-millet, nutri-garden, Aayush, organic and natural farming, Mission Shakti to promote greater empowerment of women and girls and Jan Andolan;  Poshan 2.0 is truly Indianised. If delivered effectively at the bottom-line, it can usher a nutrition revolution, he added.

This year, the budget allocated for Saksham Anganwadi and POSHAN 2.0 was Rs 20,263 crore, a small increase from Rs 20,105 crore in 2021-22.

Lauding the merger of the schemes, Binu Anand, National Team Leader, WeCollaborateforNutrition (WeCan), IPE Global, said, improved outcomes are expected. He added,

NFHS-5 data clearly indicated an upward trend in the services requiring inter-departmental convergence such as the provision of high-quality Supplementary Nutrition Programme, improving IFA (Iron-folic acid) coverage and compliance, ensuring accessibility, availability, and affordability of diverse diets, especially for women and children.

Also Read9.06 Crore Indians May Go Hungry by 2030 Due To Climate Change: Study

Mr Kar says that Mission Poshan 2.0 and Sakham Anganwadis add value to both nutrition focussed and nutrition sensitive programs. But, its real test has to be seen at district and below, where exclusions and right convergence for better nutrition outcomes remain a huge challenge. He explains that if we analyse, National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 findings, a mission-mode approach and higher budget to address all pervasive anaemia, severe wasting, obesity and overweight was the requirement.

The accelerated community-based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM) and activation of NRCs (Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres) would continue to be a major budget milestone for our children to survive and thrive in the years to come, he explains.

Ruchika Chugh Sachdeva, Vice President- Nutrition, Vitamin Angels, global public health nutrition organisation, said, the Mission POSHAN 2.0 as the potential to address the malnutrition issue. She added,

India suffers from the triple burden of malnutrition and the situation has been further exacerbated by COVID-19 pandemic. The pathway to success would be to adopt a multi-sectoral approach and innovative solutions to ensure increased coverage with quality of evidence-based nutrition and health interventions for all including hard-to-reach areas and for underserved populations like urban slums. It will be important to engrain accountability within the health systems and ensure performance-based incentives to drive impact.

On the other hand, Dr Hema Divakar, Technical Advisor, Ministry of Maternal Health & Family Welfare, who has dedicated three decades of service for Women’s Health Care, stressed on the need for India to increase the work force of ASHAs in order to address the challenge of malnutrition and zero-hunger. She recently on a BAnega Swasth India Special show said,

In India, if we talk about women’s healthcare alone, we need many more numbers of ASHA workers. Currently, there are 30 million deliveries happening every year and we just have one million of ASHA workers. We always say Banega Swasth India when healthy women will be delivering healthy babies. The healthier our next generation will be, healthier will be our nation. So, you see the programming is happening right from the womb of the women and that’s why it is of utmost importance that we focus on the first 1000 days. And for all this, ASHA workers’ role is very crucial as they are the first and direct connect. We have to work on building the capacity of ASHA workers, we have to increase their task force, we all have to think in that direction.

Watch Dr Hema Divakar’s interview on the need to strengthen the network of ASHA workers: ASHA Workers Are A Crucial Connect For Pregnant Women To Health Services: Dr Hema Divakar

In order to achieve Zero Hunger status and bring down key malnutrition avatars like stunting, wasting, low birth weight, and anaemia to single digits; India needs to double or even quadruple the current rate of hunger reduction levels by giving it the required push, Mr Kar adds,

The programs and policies cannot overlook the first one thousand golden days of life starting from pregnancy to two years of age and adolescent girls as some of the girls could be potential mothers. Nutrition-sensitive agriculture with  each district becoming self-reliant on a minimum six food groups to feed enough to women and children could be a prime driver.

Food systems should be inclusive, transparent and accountable to be able to reach zero hunger, Mr Kar signed out.

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that 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 the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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