CHHATTISGARH: Besides poor literacy and lack of empowerment, Chhattisgarh was tagged among those states which have high levels of malnutrition and anaemia among children and women in the National Health Family Survey (NHFS) - 4 (2015-16).
Apart from the NHFS-4, that cited 37.7 per cent children from 0-5 years as malnourished and 47 per cent women between 15 and 49 years as anaemic, an observation by the NITI Aayog had also raised serious concerns.
The worrying reports galvanised the Bhupesh Baghel-led government to launch a crusade — the ‘Mukhyamantri Suposhan Yojana’ — on October 2, 2019, on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, to combat these challenges.
The campaign turned out to be a big success, as till March this year, within six months since the scheme was launched, the Chhattishgarh government claimed that the number of malnourished children decreased by 13.79 per cent in the state.
Malnutrition refers to the condition of deficiencies or imbalances owing to unhealthy eating habits or lack of nutrition in the diet.
According to the 2019 ‘Vazan Tyohar’ (a weight festival that assesses the indicators on underweight, undernourished and stunted growth comparing to ideal growth indices), 9.70 lakh children were malnourished in the state, out of which 67 thousand 889 children have become free from malnutrition till March 2020.
“The campaign was intended to turn Chhattisgarh into malnutrition and anaemicfree- state in three years. We have secured very encouraging results under the scheme blending it with other integrated plans,” says Baghel.
Before the launch of the scheme, a pilot project — ‘Suposhan Abhiyan’ — was launched in selected villages of the strife-torn Dantewada and other forested division last year. The scheme now is a target-based intervention programme.
The children from 6 to 54 months were considered as ‘earmarked’ as per the WHO recommendation so that the child growth standards could be effectively measured under the age of 5 years.
At the time of launch of the scheme, there were over 4.37 lakh malnourished children in the state and till March this year, the figure got reduced to 3.69 lakh, according to the WCD department.
The officials believe till June-end, more favourable results have come out.
“The children between 6 and 54 months were selected as a target group. Districtwise software was prepared for them. Under our plan — Suposhit Durg — we weighed the targeted children every month and their data entered and monitored by a supervisor at every Anganwadi centre.
"Simultaneously, awareness among the parents who visited Anganwadi was created. In our district alone, around 10,700 were targeted, including moderate and serious, and over 48 per cent are out of malnutrition,” says Vipin Jain, district programme officer, WCD, in Durg.
"At all Anganwadi centres across the state, hot cooked meals and a supplementary nutritious diet are provided to the beneficiaries daily. “Owing to the Covid-19, instead of cooked food, the same Anganwadi centres are serving dry rations along with nutritious supplements to over 3.47 lakh beneficiary,” a senior WCD officer said.
A weekly menu put together by a nutritionist prepared following the beneficiaries’ food requirement. It includes an egg, milk-daliya, groundnut chikis and laddoos, ironrich munga, jaggery, green vegetables on a plate, besides the usual food items.
“Besides the food habits, we have learnt about the nutrition standards a growing child needs,” says Manju Tekam, father of a three-yearold Kashish from Madpal in Kanker district.