India Cannot Afford To Have Generations Of Stunted Children: Minister

India Cannot Afford To Have Generations Of Stunted Children: Minister

NEW DELHI: Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi today said India cannot afford to have generations of stunted children and underlined the need for states to prioritise regular monitoring with efficient distribution of supplementary nutrition.

Ms Gandhi, while chairing the second meeting of national council on India's nutrition challenges, said the states also need to identify people who could be benefited by the 'Poshan Abhiyan'.

The 'Poshan Abhiyan' is a programme aimed to improve nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers and to reduce the level of stunting, under-nutrition, anemia and low birth weight in children.

"India can't afford to have generations of stunted children. States should prioritise identification of beneficiaries, regular monitoring and efficient distribution of supplementary nutrition," Ms Gandhi said at the meeting.

Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar were also present in the meeting.

Mr Paswan said the success of the mission to fight malnutrition depends on stakeholders taking ownership.

"Anganwadi workers at the frontline should be adequately compensated and parents should join food inspections," Mr Paswan said at the meet.

"More needs to be done to ensure the 'Poshan Abhiyaan' reaches beneficiaries and nutrition becomes a 'Jan Andolan' with programme convergence, public buy-in and inter-ministerial cooperation," Mr Kumar said.

Mr Kumar launched guidelines for making the nutrition movement into a 'Jan Andolan', along with modules for yoga and a caller-tune ringtone for 'Poshan Abhiyaan'.

"We are taking the 'Poshan Abhiyaan' to the masses through block-level public events, social media campaigns, involvement of panchayats and recognising children as drivers of change," said NITI Aayog Member V K Paul, on how nutrition is becoming a public movement.

The 'Poshan Abhiyan' aims to bring down stunting of the children in the age group of 0-6 years from 38.4 per cent to 25 per cent by 2022.

The project will additionally ensure convergence of all nutrition-related schemes and provide performance-based incentives to states and community nutrition and health workers, facilitating a focus on results.