In a country of sharp contrasts where lifestyle diseases are on the rise, malnutrition remains a major issue, especially among women and children, in the country. Taking a look at the implementation gaps for public nutrition programmes and strategies to deliver nutrition, a day-long workshop was conducted by the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) in collaboration with the National Academy of Sciences, India (NASI) here on Thursday.
“Despite the various government schemes targeted at delivering nutrition and health initiatives, we have found that school children in Andhra Pradesh suffer from severe anaemia. Also, 30 per cent of the babies born have low birth weight, highlighting the poor nutrition status of women as well as children who grow up to be weak adults. In order to seal the implementation gap, we have guidelines for inclusion of food with high nutrition value,” said Poonam Malakondaiah, principal secretary (school education). Initiatives including use of only iodised salt in the preparation of mid-day meals were discussed by officials of the departments of health and family welfare, and civil supplies recently, she said.
The panel discussions and presentations by nutritionists and scientists focused on the government’s approach to ensure high standards of nutrition among pregnant women and newborns to ensure development and growth of the child. The first 1,000 days of life since conception were crucial for prevention of anaemia, it was said. Malnutrition cannot be solved with health supplements alone.
NIN director Dr Kalpagam Polasa and Dr Manju Sharma of NASI conducted the proceedings of the workshop to be submitted as a guideline for better implementation of public health as well as maternal and child welfare schemes.