Ranchi, Jharkhand | September | 01, 2018 :: Globally, undernutrition directly or indirectly contributes to almost half of the under-five mortality . Adequate nutrition during the first 1000 days – from conception to a child’s second birthday, not only helps children survive and thrive, but supports them to reach their full growth and development potential, which has an impact on learning and educational outcomes and hence improving India’s macroeconomic growth.
Why invest in nutrition?
As per Global Nutrition Report 2017, investing in nutrition offers $16 return for every $1 invested.
Around two-third of working population in India are earning 13 percent less because of childhood stunting (being too short for their age )
India loses 2-3 % of GDP every year due to undernutrition among children under 2 years of age
All forms of malnutrition (undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight) cost the global economy US$500 per individual per year
Children who escape stunting are 33% more likely to escape poverty as adults
Situation in Jharkhand
The key statistics from Jharkhand as per the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) are below
Every 2nd child below five years of age is short for his/her age: Stunted (Prevalence= 45%)
3 in 10 children below five years are too thin for their height: Wasted (Prevalence= 29%)
7 out of 10 children below five years are anemic (Prevalence= 69.9%)
7 out of 10 women in reproductive age are anemic (Prevalence= 65.2%)
5.8 lakh (approx) children below five years of age are severe acute malnourished or SAM (Prevalence=11.4%)
Approximately 2 million children (45.3%) under five years in Jharkhand are stunted, with a long-term impact on lowering learning capacity and increased school dropouts, lowering earning potential in adult life and intergenerational transfer of undernutrition and poverty.
Although 62% children in Jharkhand are born in health facilities only one-in-three children are put to breast within one hour of birth. Nearly one -third of infants do not get exclusive breast milk during the first six month of their life.”
In Jharkhand, there has been a decline in children 6-8 months who have been timely initiated complementary foods from 60% in 2005-06 to 47% in 2015-16. Only 7 % of children 6-23 months are fed diets that meet minimum levels of adequacy i.e. fed with a minimum age appropriate frequency per day and fed diets that meet a minimum diversity with at least 4 plus food groups along with continued breastfeeding.
The child development is highest in the period of pregnancy to first 2 years of life. The period from pre-conception to first two years of life is the critical window period to break the cycle intergenerational transmission of undernutrition and poverty.
Dr. Madhulika Jonathan, Chief of UNICEF Jharkhand says, “UNICEF in collaboration with the Departments of Women & Child development, Health & Family Welfare, Education, Drinking Water & Sanitation and the State Nutrition Mission is intensifying various activities under JAN ANDOLAN for Poshan Mah. UNICEF is supporting the monitoring of Poshan Mah activities and its reporting in 10 Poshan Abhiyan districts.”
What more needs to be done?
We need to focus on coverage, continuity, intensity and quality (C2IQ) of essential nutrition interventions for greater impact on maternal and child health and nutrition. Critical area of focus are as follows:
Every newborn starts breastfeeding within one hour of birth
Every infant is exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life
Every infant is given complementary foods after completing sixth month of life while breastfeeding continues at least 24 months and beyond
Every child aged 6-24 months is fed age-appropriate, nutrient-dense complementary foods with increased quantity, density and frequency as the child ages
Every child 6-24 months is fed using safe and hygienic practices, including hand-washing at critical times and avoid feeding bottles
Every child receives full immunization and bi-annual vitamin A supplementation and deworming
Ensuring children with severe acute malnutrition is given timely and quality therapeutic feeding and care, best before the development of medical complications
Every child is fed frequently during and after illness, while breastfeeding continues. Children with diarrhoea receive appropriate rehydration therapy and zinc supplementation
Every adolescent girl is protected against Anaemia with enough nutritious food, weekly iron and folic acid supplementation, twice yearly deworming, and life-skills to avoid early marriage and pregnancy
Every pregnant and lactating mother has access to enough and quality foods, takes micronutrient supplements (IFA, calcium, deworming) supplements, iodized salt and receives health and family planning services.
What is POSHAN Abhiyan?
POSHAN Abhiyan (PM’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nourishment) was launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India from Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan on 8 March 2018 to improve nutritional status of children up to 6 years of age, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers though specific targets for stunting, underweight and low birth weight (reduction by 2 percentage points per year) and anemia (reduction by 3 percent per year).
What is Rastriya Poshan Maah?
September month is to be celebrated as Rastriya Poshan Mah which was decided in the 2nd meeting of the National Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges. With an effort to convert this “Abhiyan” into a JAN ANDOLAN for effective implementation and improving the reach of the programme, September month will have series of events on nutrition under various departments such as Women and Child Development, Health, Rural Development, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Panchayati Raj, Education and food etc. Various activities at different level will focus on key themes such antenatal care, optimal breastfeeding, complementary feeding, anemia, growth monitoring, girls education, diet, right age of marriage, hygiene and sanitation, eat healthy and food fortification.