Prime minister’s food for thought: low nutrition in children

Modi wants to map areas prone to malnutrition, train prospective mothers on food habits and lifestyle; also give nutritional training to grandmothers.

Published: 17th September 2017 09:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th September 2017 09:24 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi now wants to train prospective mothers on food habits and a healthy lifestyle. Also on the list is giving nutritional training to grandmothers. Modi has directed the Union ministry of health and the Union ministry of women and child development (WCD) to work on these areas and a compliance report be submitted at the earliest.

He wants that an online certificate course be devised, including in regional languages, for prospective mothers, on food habits and other aspects of lifestyle to improve nutrition level in children. The target group should be girl students in Class X-XII. The Prime Minister has also directed the ministry of WCD to examine how grandmothers can be trained to support prospective and lactating mothers. 

“PM wants to identify 
and map areas/pockets prone to malnutrition. Location-specific factors should be identified and recommendations should be made for addressing the same,” said a senior WCD ministry official.  
To deal with the problem, director general of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) proposed introducing millets in the public distribution system. The PMO has directed a joint examination of proposals by the Indian Council for Agriculture Research (ICAR) under the leadership of NITI Aayog and submitting of recommendations within a period of six months. 

Taking Small Steps

The recently published National Family Health Survey-4 reflects some progress, with a decline in the overall levels of under nutrition in both women and children. However, the pace of decline is far below what numerous countries with similar growth trajectories to India have achieved. To address this and to bring nutrition to the centrestage of the National Development Agenda, NITI Aayog has recently launched the National Nutrition Strategy. 

Win Some, Lose Some

Between 2005 and 2015, there has been an overall reduction in the proportion of underweight children in India, mainly on account of an improvement in stunting (low height for weight). While the percentage of stunted children under five reduced from 48 per cent in 2005-06 to 38.4 per cent in 2015-16, there has been a rise in the percentage of children who are wasted (low weight for height) from 19.8 per cent to 21 per cent during this period.

The Prime Minister has also directed the ministry of WCD to examine how grandmothers can be trained to support prospective and lactating mothers

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