New Delhi: The Union Minister of Women & Child Development (WCD) and Textiles, Smriti Irani, said that Ministry of WCD, NITI Aayog and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare are examining measures to strengthen the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) program in order to ensure that targeted children are benefited.
Irani reiterated that malnutrition is not restricted to women and children belonging to the poor strata of society, many children from affluent families living in urban areas are equally afflicted with malnutrition.
Irani added that proper nutrition depends on the selection of nutritious foods for children, expectant mothers and lactating women. The WCD Minister said that nutrition levels have improved by 40% between 2006 and 2016.
Irani was speaking at the inaugural session of Northern Regional Workshop on Best Practices and Innovations from POSHAN Abhiyaan in New Delhi last evening.
Irani further added that the Government is considering amendments to Prevention of Child Marriage Act to make reporting of cases of child marriages mandatory for the concerned agencies.
Her remarks came in response to a question on the prevalence of a large number of cases of pregnancies among married girls under 18 years of age. The number of cases of pregnancies in girls under 18 years is as high as 21%. Children born from child marriages are more prone to undernourishment.
Irani stated that 270,000 activities were undertaken by the Ministry of WCD, State Governments, and Anganwadi workers during the POSHAN Maah in September this year with 1.3 million ground level functionaries dealing with 85 million beneficiaries.
The WCD Minister added that Odisha was not part of the POSHAN Abhiyaan in the beginning but has now come on board, and West Bengal has adopted most of the elements of the program.
Tripura which had a huge gap in implementation of the nutrition program two years ago has now made remarkable achievements in nutrition, observed Irani.
CEO NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant, in his keynote address said that malnutrition is a big challenge and it has to be tackled successfully if India is to grow at the rate of 8-9 percent annually.
Kant said the POSHAN Abhiyaan cannot be run merely as a government program, it has to be made a Jan Andolan by actively engaging Panchayati Raj institutions and self-help groups.
Kant observed that there is a lack of convergence at the field level that can be addressed by capacity building, leveraging technology and real time monitoring of schemes being implemented to tackle the problem of malnutrition.
Country Director, World Food Programme, Bishow Parajuli also addressed the workshop. The two-day event has been organized by the Ministry of WCD and Observer Research Foundation.
Earlier in November, Smriti Irani and Bill Gates launched the Bharatiya Poshan Krishi Krosh nutrition program.