Children in India continue to suffer from under-nourishment despite positive changes the country has witnessed over the years, Health Minister J.P. Nadda said. He said children in India may survive due to better health and vaccines, still that may not reach their full potential as productive citizens.
Terming the difference in children's nutritional value among various states as a "big failure", Mr. Nadda said: "There is a need for providing timely and evidence based holistic interventions using a continuum of care approach, in a convergent manner with all concerned departments such as water, sanitation, hygiene, education, agriculture and food security."
"Accelerating action at the state-level is essential for changing the trajectory of India's children's future as the battle against under nutrition must now be fought at the ground level in communities and at homes," he said at the launch of the India Health Report for Nutrition Security in India. The event was organised by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
Stating that the government was committed to eradicating malnutrition, Mr. Nadda said that with the launch of the Rural Health Mission and the subsequent National Health Mission, India has moved from its earlier vertical approach to a new strategic approach -- the reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health and adolescent (RMNCH+A) -- bringing focus on all life stages with nutrition as a cross cutting issue especially for adolescents.
"Improving adolescent girls' nutrition and delaying first pregnancy is one of our key intervention designed to break the inter-generational cycle of malnutrition.
"The Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), and the Janani Shishu Saraksha Karyakram (JSSK) have contributed to a rapid increase in coverage of essential interventions," he said.
"An essential part of these interventions is a 48-hour mandatory stay in a facility during childbirth to ensure counseling on appropriate nutrition for mother and child and initiation of breast feeding under the supervision of health service provider," he said.
Mr. Nadda also informed that his ministry has developed a set of guidelines on "infant and young child feeding" that recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, who was present on the occasion, highlighted the role of Anganwadi in eradicating malnutrition.