NITI Aayog, Women & Child Development Ministry to strengthen ICDS: Union Minister Smriti
New Delhi: The Ministry of Women & Child Development (WCD), NITI Aayog and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare are examining ways to strengthen the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme in order to ensure that targeted children are benefitted.
Stating this, Union Minister of Women & Child Development (WCD) and Textiles Smriti Zubin Irani said malnutrition was not restricted to women and children belonging to the poor strata of society.
Many children from affluent families living in urban areas were equally afflicted with malnutrition. "Proper nutrition depends on selection of nutritious food for children, expectant mothers and lactating women," she said and informed that nutrition levels had improved by 40 per cent between 2006 and 2016.
The Minister was speaking at the inaugural session of Northern Regional Workshop on Best Practices and Innovations from POSHAN Abhiyaan here last evening.
She further said the Government was 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 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 was as high as 21 per cent. Children born from child marriages were more prone to undernourishment.
Ms Irani informed that 2.7 crore activities were undertaken by her ministry, state governments, anganwadi workers during the POSHAN Maah in September this year with 1.3 million ground level functionaries dealing with 85 million beneficiaries. Odisha was not part of POSHAN Abhiyaan in the beginning but has now come on board and West Bengal had adopted most of the elements of the programme. Similarly, Tripura which had a huge gap in implementation of the nutrition programme two years ago had now made remarkable turnaround in nutrition, she informed.
NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, in his keynote address, said malnutrition was a big challenge and it had to be tackled successfully if India was to grow at the rate of 8-9 per cent annually. "POSHAN
Abhiyaan cannot be run merely as a government programme. It has to be made a Jan Andolan by actively engaging Panchayati Raj institutions and self-help groups," Mr Kant observed, adding that there was a lack of convergence at the field level that could be addressed by capacity building, leveraging technology and real time monitoring of the schemes being implemented to tackle the problem of malnutrition.
Country Director, World Food Programme Bishow Parajuli also addressed the workshop. The two-day event was organised by the WCD Ministry and Observer Research Foundation, an official release here said.