This is expected to play a significant role in the outreach exercise to battle the problem of malnutrition.
During his two-day visit to the state that is heading for assembly polls later this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi among various other initiatives on Saturday launched a new scheme where pregnant and lactating mothers will be given 2 kg of chickpeas, 1 kg of tur dal and 1 kg of edible oil free of cost from anganwadi centres every month in addition to the other benefits they are already availing.
The government is projecting the ‘Mukhyamantri Matrushakti Yojana’, as a key component in the battle against malnutrition, with an outlay of Rs 800 crore.
A focused outreach will also be carried out through nutritious meals for pregnant and lactating tribal women across the state. To enable this the PM also disbursed around Rs 120 crore towards ‘Poshan Sudha Yojana’, which is now being extended to all tribal beneficiaries in the state.
According to officials this step is being taken after the experiment of providing pregnant and lactating mothers from tribal districts nutrient rich meals in the anganwadi premises, iron and calcium tablets and education on nutrition was seen to have been effective.
Officials of the department of women and child development of Gujarat shared that the scheme which was being implemented in six districts will be extended to all 14 districts with significant tribal presence. Joint director of ICDS in WCD department of Gujarat government, Avantika Darji shared in a presentation that tribal women will be provided a nutritious meal five days a week at anganwadi centres to ensure their health status improves. She shared that as of now there were 1.38 lakh tribal pregnant and lactating women registered under ICDS programmes in 14 districts.
Meanwhile, the Union ministry of women and child development is in the process of getting data collated through its digital platform “Poshan Tracker” on severely malnourished children (SAM) and moderately malnourished children (MAM) to establish the prevalence and the estimates of decline witnessed on development parameters of height and weight as per WHO guidelines.
WCD ministry officials said that a third party assessment is being carried out and by next year the Centre should be in a position to give the numbers.
So far National Family Health Surveys have been by far the most cited source of data on SAM and MAM children but the WCD ministry officials feel that this data cannot be the the sample size is much smaller as compared to the much larger sample size now available on “Poshan Tracker” of children who are currently availing anganwadi services.
According to officials in the WCD ministry, data of 1.80 crore children is available on Poshan Tracker whose development is being monitored. In comparison the estimates of NFHS-5 are drawn from a household sample size of around 6 lakh.
In the budget session of Parliament the WCD minister Smriti Irani had informed Rajya Sabha that around 7% children in the country are malnourished. The WCD officials reiterated the same on Friday. This 7% includes 2% SAM and 5% MAM as per the government’s Poshan tracker methodology.
According to WCD officials this number is much less than the figures cited in the NFHS-5 data which says around 19% of children in the country were malnourished. The third party audit was therefore being carried out to validate the numbers, officials said.