Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme starts new initiative to fight malnutrition
Bihar, the state with the highest malnutrition rate among women, has decided to revamp food menu for pregnant women under its Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme. Nearly 80 per cent of children below the age of five years and 66.66 per cent of women in the child-bearing age suffer from malnutrition in the state.
Bandana Preyashi, director of ICDS in Bihar, says the new menu includes local food which will help boost health of mothers and children (see ‘New menu’). Under the plan, fruits, jaggery, beaten rice, biscuits, suji (semolina) halwa and pulao have been added to the daily menu. Earlier, only khichri (rice cooked with lentils) was provided. Preyashi has ordered that food served to the new mothers should be tastefully prepared.
Funding to aganwadi kendras has been enhanced from Rs 9,750 to Rs 16,225 per month each. Foodgrains, fruits and vegetables are being bought locally through vendors and kitchen gardens. “The enhancement in funds for anganwadi is a necessity to add nutritional value and also to tackle rising food inflation,” says Preyashi.
Toll of malnutrition
Severe malnutrition among children below five has resulted in poor brain development. Bihar is facing challenges like early child-bearing, which results in high infant mortality rate. Of every 1,000 live births, 55 infants die in Bihar; the national average is 47.
The nutritional plan for mothers and children has been initiated on a mission mode in 19 worst malnutrition-affected districts of the state. Under the mission mode plan, the ministry is planning to monitor the weight of the children and women. Monitoring will help judge if the new diet plan is effective.
In 2009, the Supreme Court had directed ICDS to revamp the nutrition of pregnant and new mothers.
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