India has struggled for years to address widespread malnutrition in all age groups. Malnutrition is characterized as deficiencies, excesses, or imbalances in a person’s nutrient intake, and it is a problem that is serious enough for India to designate it as a top national priority.
The government started the POSHAN Abhiyaan (Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition) to enhance nutritional outcomes for children, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers to stop the malnutrition epidemic sweeping the nation. On March 8, 2018, the Prime Minister unveiled the program at Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan.
The government has combined several programs with similar objectives, such as the Supplementary Nutrition Programme and POSHAN Abhiyaan under one umbrella—Mission POSHAN 2.0—for creating synergies in operations and adopting an integrated approach to nutrition services. Initially, the scheme was targeted for three years until March 2021, covering key aspects of the current malnutrition situation in the country.
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POSHAN ABHIYAN NEED
Over the past four decades, India has made various attempts at nutrition programming, including the creation of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and the implementation of the mid-day meal plan statewide.
But the nation still faces persistent problems with malnutrition and stunting.
Despite a major decline in malnutrition rates, India continues to have the highest percentage of stunted and wasted children (children with low weight-for-height) in the world. Fighting malnutrition necessitates a detailed strategy due to the cultural and geographic diversity across the states. The government’s national nutrition mission, POSHAN Abhiyaan, was established in 2018 to offer a convergence mechanism for the nation’s response to malnutrition.
PURPOSE OF POLICY
The improvement of nutritional status in young children (0–6 years), adolescent girls, pregnant women, and breastfeeding moms is the main objective of the POSHAN Abhiyaan. All 36 states and union territories are included in the three-year POSHAN Abhiyaan program, which aims to ensure an all-encompassing approach. Reducing stunting in children (0–6 years) from 38.4% in 2016 to 25% by 2022 is the mission’s goal. In addition to reducing anemia in women and adolescent girls (15–49 years old), POSHAN Abhiyaan also seeks to increase birth weight. The plan offers a unique chance to end undernourishment among the general populace. A malnutrition-free India by 2022 is the goal of this comprehensive multi-ministerial convergence program.
The mission combines several initiatives, such as the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), Anganwadi Services, the Scheme for Adolescent Girls under the Ministry of Women & Child Development (MoWCD), the National Health Mission (NHM) of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, the Swachh Bharat Mission of the Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation (MoDW&S), and the Public Distribution System (PDS)
The POSHAN Abhiyaan seeks to minimize malnutrition by focusing on the special 1,000-day window surrounding childbirth and providing pre-and postpartum care for mothers. The ICDS computer application software, Convergence Action Planning, Behavioural Change Communication, and Capacity Building are the four main pillars that will support the implementation of the POSHAN Abhiyaan in developing services for vulnerable people.
The four pillars mentioned above are intended to be brought together on a platform by the POSHAN Abhiyaan. The purpose of the POSHAN Abhiyaan, which goes by the motto “Jan Andolan” (people’s movement), is to make the fight against malnutrition a priority for every person on a national level.
DELIVERY OF POLICY
2.51 billion people had signed up for the program as of March 2020, and more than 36 million activities had been logged. Overall nutrition, anemia, cleanliness (water & sanitation), breastfeeding, growth monitoring, and immunizations are given more attention than other topics.
The following technique is used to make the convergence action planning work:
The National Council, led by the Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog, and the Executive Committee, under the direction of the Secretary of the Ministry of Women & Child Development, are responsible for addressing convergence at the national level. Representatives from all associated ministries, partners, and a few states and districts are on both committees. These groups get together every three months. Every six months, the prime minister receives a progress report.
The State, District, and Block Level Convergence Action Plan Committees are tasked with reviewing progress, identifying gaps, and introducing effective interventions (as needed) based on particular targets. The State-level Convergence Committee is presided over by the Chief Secretaries, and these committees must convene at least once a quarter.
POSHAN 2.0 MISSION SCHEME
To stop further declines in nutrition metrics, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman introduced Mission POSHAN 2.0 in February 2021. The statement was made at the same time that the government chose to focus its efforts and resources on implementing multiple nutrition programs around the nation. The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)—Anganwadi Services, Supplementary Nutrition Programme, POSHAN Abhiyaan, Scheme for Adolescent Girls, and National Crèche Scheme—are all combined under Mission POSHAN 2.0.
Filling the gap left by the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) and Average Daily Intake (ADI) is the primary objective of the ICDS Scheme.
The Saksham Anganwadi Scheme, a component of the ICDS Anganwadi Services, was created to modernize the Anganwadi infrastructure and turn them into facilities for children’s learning and healthcare. One of the six services offered by the ICDS Scheme to improve the health and nutritional status of pregnant and lactating women, as well as children aged six months to six years, is the supplementary nutrition program. The Ministry of Women and Child Development is responsible for implementing the ICDS. The National Creche Scheme and the Scheme for Adolescent Girls’ roles in Mission POSHAN 2.0 are still to be determined.
Implementing a thorough, unified approach is the goal to improve nutritional content, delivery, outreach, and outcome, with a renewed emphasis on creating national practices that promote health, wellness, and resistance to disease and malnutrition. The objective is to execute these projects cooperatively to halt the decline in the health and nutrition index.
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BROADCASTING AND IMPLEMENTATION
The government has chosen 112 aspirational districts for this mission’s initial phase. Under the auspices of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) within the National Education Policy (NEP), the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and the Ministry of Education will work together to implement this project.
For the program’s fiscal years 2021–2022, the Finance Ministry has set aside an estimated budget of Rs. 20,105 crore (US$ 2,741 million). This represents the combined estimate for the five systems that make up Mission POSHAN 2.0. Estimates of the segmented budget have not yet been made public. Actual spending on these five programs totaled Rs. 18,927 crore ($2,581 million) during the previous fiscal cycle.