Poshan Abhiyaan was launched in 2018 by the Prime Minister in Jhunjhunu and is a flagship program of the Ministry of Women and Child Development Government of India.
Why do we need this scheme?
India faces an acute problem of malnutrition. According to National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4), 38.% of India’s children aged less than 5 years are stunted (less height for their age), 21% are wasted (less weight for their height) and 35.7% are underweight. India also ranks low 100th out of 119 countries on 2017 Global Hunger Index (GHI) and was placed at high end of “serious” category in GHI severity scale, owing mainly to fact that one in every five children under age 5 is “wasted” (low weight for height).
What are the targets?
- To integrate various programmes like Anganwadi Services, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG) of MWCD Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), National Health Mission (NHM), Swachh-Bharat Mission, Public Distribution System (PDS), Department Food & Public Distribution, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme(MGNREGS) etc.
- To improve the nutritional status of children (0-6 years), Adolescent Girls, Pregnant Women, and Lactating Mothers.
- To reduce stunting, under-nutrition, anemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls) and reduce low birth weight by 2% per annum.
- To bring down stunting among children in the age group 0-6 years from 38.4% to 25% by 2022.
Why haven’t targets been achieved?
A recent study led by Akshay Swaminathan (Department of Statistics, Harvard University), titled ‘On Burden of child malnutrition in India-a view from parliamentary constituencies’(PCs), states that currently, stunting in children under 5 is 38.4%
- Misuse of funds has caused differences between and within states. Across 543 PCs, stunting ranged from 13.7 to 61.7 %, underweight ranged from 10.5 to 60%, wasting ranged from 7.3 to 40.6 %, and anaemia ranged from 19.5 to 83.0 %.
- Household poverty levels are responsible for malnutrition in certain states which has been shown to be a huge risk factor for stunting, wasting and underweight in India. In certain PCs a large proportion of poor households may be present which could have reflected on high prevalence of child malnutrition,” states the study.
- Karnataka, Odisha and Maharashtra have PCs in the top two (regions doing extremely well) and bottom two (regions performing poorly) across various indicators.
“Further research is required to determine the exact mechanism for intrastate malnutrition variation across PCs. Government has to focus on a multilevel analysis of household poverty and health spending at the local level.”
The government should be more vigilant about the responsibilities given to MPs in case of implementation and which PCs need more focus.