Action plan against malnutrition favours synergy of departments

Action plan against malnutrition favours synergy of departments

3 sub-committees formed to plug gap with a convergence plan

Both the departments play a crucial role right from the stage of providing nutritious food to children and pregnant mothers, ante natal and post natal. As no effort has been made to bridge the gap between the two,  the Central and State-sponsored welfare schemes have not yielded the expected results.

Now, the three sub-committees formed by the government to address the question of rising malnutrition among children, hope to plug that gap by coming up with a comprehensive convergence plan and setting up a monitoring committee to oversee the co-ordination.

The committees are constituted by officials from different departments and civil society and the action plan is likely to be submitted to the government within this month.
Nina Nayak, Chairman of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights - who is a member of the sub-committee set up for monitoring - says that overlapping of schemes of the DHFW and DWCD had led to a lot of confusion.

The ANMs (auxillary nurse midwives), anganwadi workers and ASHAs (accredited social health activists) are all working on the same group without any co-ordination and they belong to two different departments. In the midst of all this, accountability has to be pinned on someone for tracking the health of a pregnant woman, child and mothers of new borns. Till this is done, there is no idea of how these multiple schemes are being implemented.”

Central and State-sponsored schemes catering to this segment are many. There is the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), Janani Suraksha scheme, Bhagyalakshmi, Madilu, Thayi Bhagya to name a few. For example, ICDS - concentrating on nutritional levels of children aged between zero and six enrolled into anganwadis and pregnant and lactating mothers - comes under the DWCD. The Iron and Folic Acid supplements to pregnant mothers at the anganwadi centres are supplied by the Health Department.

“ANMs, who come under the Health Department, are supposed to go to the anganwadi centres to check the health of pregnant and lactating mothers. This is not happening and there is no one to monitor it. Unless there is some system to oversee it, there is just loss of financial resources and no improvement in the status of the children or women,” Nina says.

The resurvey ordered in Raichur district puts the number of malnourished children at 7,000. This is an increase from around 4,500 reported earlier. The DWCD officials are attributing the increase in numbers to the changed criteria of evaluation from the Harvard Measuring Standard to the World Health Organisation criteria.

The action plan also entails roping in the Department of Food and Civil Supplies as the members of the committee are of the opinion that the families of all malnourished children should be entitled to Antyodaya cards.